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Configurations of Strategy and Structure in Subsidiaries of Multinational Structure

Julian M Birkinshaw and Allen J Morrison
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Julian M Birkinshaw: Stockholm School of Economics
Allen J Morrison: American Graduate School of International Management

Journal of International Business Studies, 1995, vol. 26, issue 4, 729-753

Abstract: A three-fold typology of subsidiary roles (world mandate, specialized contributor, local implementer) was induced from the literature and its empirical validity was confirmed. Adopting a configurational approach, we then explored the ways in which subsidiary ‘structural context’ varies across subsidiary role types. Structural context characteristics were determined through a discussion of the underlying principles of the ‘hierarchy’ and ‘heterarchy’ models of multinational organization. The key findings were: (a) higher strategic autonomy in world mandates than in local implementers; (b) a more internationally configured value-chain in world mandates and specialized contributors than local implementers; (c) lower levels of internal product flows in world mandates than the other two types; and (d) a significantly lower performance in specialized contributors. Implications for a configurational model of subsidiary management, and for heterarchy as a higher level conceptualization, are discussed.© 1995 JIBS. Journal of International Business Studies (1995) 26, 729–753

Date: 1995
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