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The Unequal Playing Field: Headquarters’ Attention and Subsidiary Voice in Multinational Corporations
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Business Studies.
2016 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Attention of top managers has an impact on future direction of an organization according to the attention-based view of the firm. In the context of multinational corporations, headquarters’ attention is likely to influence the actions and behavior of subsidiaries. Thus, in the thesis, I respond to calls for more research on this topic: enhancing the understanding about how a subsidiary’s perception of headquarters’ attention relates to its choice of communication moves when sharing business ideas with headquarters (also known as subsidiary voice). In recent research, subsidiary voice is viewed as a bottom-up tool for subsidiaries to attract headquarters’ attention to issues that they consider important for their local units and the entire organization.

In line with the research purpose, the data were collected at the subsidiary level through a combination of both, survey and interviews. The findings based on empirical data point out that a subsidiary’s perception of headquarters’ attention engagement has a positive impact on its voice. This means that subsidiaries not having regular interaction with headquarters are unable to select communication moves that can attract headquarters’ attention and hence encounter challenges in adopting an initiative-taking approach to gain influence or a central position in the organization. As a result, contrary to the claims put forth in recent research, the thesis findings highlight that subsidiary voice alone is not enough to attract headquarters’ attention. Instead, subsidiaries can only use their voice when they have power (also called weight) to influence headquarters’ attention and decisions.

This gives rise to an unequal playing field because subsidiaries that lack considerable weight are unable to contribute to strategy formulation and future planning done by the headquarters, with regard to their own units and the organization in general. On the contrary, subsidiaries with a considerable weight experience a high degree of attention engagement from the headquarters and thus find it easier to attract headquarters’ attention for their business ideas.      

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Uppsala: Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis, 2016. , 72 p.
Series
Doctoral thesis / Företagsekonomiska institutionen, Uppsala universitet, ISSN 1103-8454 ; 182
Keyword [en]
attention, communication, issue selling, subsidiary initiatives, multinational corporation, headquarter-subsidiary relationship
National Category
Social Sciences
Research subject
Business Studies
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-306441ISBN: 978-91-506-2611-7OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-306441DiVA: diva2:1040573
Public defence
2016-12-15, Hörsal 2 (Lecture Hall 2), Ekonomikum, Kyrkogårdsgatan 10 C, Uppsala, 13:15 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2016-11-25 Created: 2016-10-28 Last updated: 2016-11-25
List of papers
1. Keeping suggestion systems alive: Making top managers responsive to business ideas from employees
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Keeping suggestion systems alive: Making top managers responsive to business ideas from employees
(English)In: Creativity and Innovation Management, ISSN 0963-1690, E-ISSN 1467-8691Article in journal (Refereed) Submitted
National Category
Social Sciences
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-306296 (URN)
Available from: 2016-10-26 Created: 2016-10-26 Last updated: 2016-10-28
2. Trapped in a vicious circle: Can low weight subsidiaries get headquarters’ attention?
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Trapped in a vicious circle: Can low weight subsidiaries get headquarters’ attention?
(English)In: Critical Perspectives on International Business, ISSN 1742-2043, E-ISSN 1758-6062Article in journal (Refereed) Accepted
National Category
Social Sciences
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-306295 (URN)
Available from: 2016-10-26 Created: 2016-10-26 Last updated: 2016-10-28
3. Attention in words, not in deeds: Effects of attention dissonance on headquarters-subsidiary communication in multinational corporations
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Attention in words, not in deeds: Effects of attention dissonance on headquarters-subsidiary communication in multinational corporations
2016 (English)In: Journal of world business (Print), ISSN 1090-9516, E-ISSN 1878-5573Article in journal (Refereed) In press
Abstract [en]

We introduce the notion of attention dissonance, where the subsidiary within a headquarter-subsidiary relationship feels that headquarters’ attention at the cognitive level, reflected in its strategic intentions (attention perspective), is not aligned with the routine actions the headquarters performs vis-à-vis the specific subsidiary (attention engagement). Using a comparative case study design, we investigate a European organization with subsidiaries located in both emerging and advanced markets. We show how subsidiaries in the emerging markets face attention dissonance, which impedes their ability to get business opportunities across to headquarters, thereby compromising a necessary condition for realizing economic potential in these emerging markets.

Keyword
Attention; Communication; Business opportunities; Emerging markets; Headquarter-subsidiary relationship
National Category
Business Administration
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-305361 (URN)10.1016/j.jwb.2016.10.001 (DOI)
Available from: 2016-10-14 Created: 2016-10-14 Last updated: 2016-10-28Bibliographically approved
4. Headquarters’ attention, subsidiary voice and strategic change in multinational corporations.
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Headquarters’ attention, subsidiary voice and strategic change in multinational corporations.
(English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
National Category
Social Sciences
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-306298 (URN)
Available from: 2016-10-26 Created: 2016-10-26 Last updated: 2016-10-28

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Haq, Hammad ul
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