Table of Contents

Managing the Contemporary Multinational

Managing the Contemporary Multinational

The Role of Headquarters

New Horizons in International Business series

Edited by Ulf Andersson and Ulf Holm

Managing the Contemporary Multinational explores the role of headquarters in different structures of multinational firms and shows how this role is affected by the complexity of contemporary research.

Chapter 1: Introduction and Overview

Ulf Andersson and Ulf Holm

Subjects: business and management, international business, strategic management


Ulf Andersson and Ulf Holm It is not evident how the role of headquarters (HQ) should be conceptualized in the contemporary multinational corporation (MNC). During the past decades, research has added more complexity to the attributes of the MNC, a complexity with implications for the role of HQ. However, we are all aware that researchers are scattered in their use of different theories and how they deal with various issues. As an example, among many others, Forsgren (2008a) consolidated the various concepts in the literature to classify MNCs into six core dimensions depending on their theoretical foundation.1 These conceptualizations contain differences that are evident when scrutinizing how attributes of the MNC are described: for example, the MNC organization, the roles of HQ and subsidiaries and the MNC environment are often conceptualized in different ways. Thus, there is no single conceptualization of the MNC, and one can conclude that, evidently, it is difficult to define what the ‘contemporary MNC’ is. We could, of course, scrutinize received research and evaluate the volume of research output within the different conceptualizations of the MNC, marking-up the relative popularity of certain approaches. Another way to reason is to identify which research issues have been addressed with frequency over the past ten years or so. In this respect, the expression ‘contemporary’ would reflect research issues that have been of interest relatively recently and studied within one or several conceptualizations of the MNC. For example, the issue of knowledge development and transfer increased in popularity during the...