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Whitaker Ideas Forum: Josephine Igoe, Subsidiary Initiative: A Pathway for Strategy-Making and Subsidiary Evolution: The cases of US High-Technology Multinational Subsidiaries in the Irish Context

February 7, 2018 @ 1:00 pm - 2:00 pm

Speaker(s): Josephine Igoe

Affiliation: Work, Society and Governance

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Recognising the importance of subsidiary entrepreneurship, specifically in the form of subsidiary innovative initiative-taking by subsidiary managers or their team, this paper examines the types of initiatives (such as new product, services or processes), which have shaped the evolution of subsidiaries in the ICT and MedTech sectors over a ten-year timeframe. Initiative-taking is the core pathway for strategy-making and evolution of the subsidiary. The subsidiary unit has a manifestly powerful role at the heart of its various networks, from which it can initiate and pursue unique initiatives oft times outside of the parent mandate. Subsidiary initiatives are specific proactive undertakings launched by subsidiary management ideas, pursued by teams and may reinforce or alter the current strategic direction of the organisation. This entrepreneurial behaviour of subsidiary managers has been deemed critical to the role and sustainability of multinational subsidiaries in any given location. Moreover, more recently, multinational enterprises require that subsidiary units contribute to innovations within the entire organisation. Understanding how initiatives emerge, their contribution to subsidiary role and the strategic direction of the subsidiary are critical performance indicators for the subsidiary and the multinational enterprise (MNE).

How initiatives emerge and come to be realised is rather complex. This process surfaces subsidiary relationship tensions between the subsidiary and its local and internal context including sister subsidiaries and the headquarters. Drawing upon the strategic management literature, with a focus on strategy process models, and upon the broader international business literature, we take a less pursued path of inquiry in adopting a microfoundations lens to examine the activities of the subsidiary manager in realising the emergence and realisation of the initiatives for the MNE in its social context. In examining the contingencies between initiative types, context and their realisation, this paper contributes to our understanding of subsidiary evolution and renewal with implications for strategy process research and capability development. The paper concludes with implications for theory, practice and policy.