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Subsidiary staffing and initiative-taking in multinational corporations: A socio-political perspective

Dörrenbächer, C and Geppert, M (2010) Subsidiary staffing and initiative-taking in multinational corporations: A socio-political perspective Personnel Review, 39 (5). pp. 600-621.

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This paper seeks to explore the personal motives of subsidiary CEOs in taking initiatives in multinational corporations. In essence, the paper proposes that subsidiary initiative-taking is strongly driven by the socio-political positioning of subsidiary CEOs, which consists of specific “social aspects” that account for the basic orientation that subsidiary CEOs maintain in initiative-taking, as well as “political aspects” that affect the ability of subsidiary CEOs to strategize and the ways they do it in the highly politicized processes of initiative-taking.


The paper is based on four exploratory case studies undertaken in German subsidiaries in France. Applying a matched pair approach it compares two subsidiaries run by parent country nationals (PCNs) with two subsidiaries run by host country nationals (HCNs).


The paper demonstrates that the nationality of the subsidiary CEO alone does not explain subsidiary CEOs initiative-taking behaviour. Other factors that make up the socio-political positioning of subsidiary CEOs, such as career aspiration, career orientation, access to resources and specific skills to form internal and local coalitions, as well as “external” coalitions with the headquarters, need to be considered as well.

Research limitations/implications

Given the qualitative research design and exploratory nature of the study there are limits to how far the findings can be generalized and applied elsewhere. More in-depth research is needed to further develop the socio-political perspective put forward here, especially to more closely analyze the interplay of actors' (CEOs') socio-political positioning approaches within different contexts of subsidiary initiative-taking.


The socio-political perspective proposed here goes beyond and extends existing IRHM approaches, which narrowly focus on the overarching impact of nationality as a predictor of differences in the behaviour of subsidiary CEOs.

Item Type: Article
Divisions : Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences > Surrey Business School
Authors :
Dörrenbächer, C
Geppert, M
Date : 2010
DOI : 10.1108/00483481011064163
Copyright Disclaimer : This article is © Emerald Group Publishing and permission has been granted for this version to appear here. Emerald does not grant permission for this article to be further copied/distributed or hosted elsewhere without the express permission from Emerald Group Publishing Limited.
Depositing User : Symplectic Elements
Date Deposited : 17 May 2012 12:32
Last Modified : 06 Oct 2017 13:18

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