Document Type

Conference Paper


This item is available under a Creative Commons License for non-commercial use only


Business and Management.


This working paper presents an ongoing empirical study into strategy development at the subsidiary management level of the Multinational Enterprise (MNE). The multinational subsidiary is a unique context to study management processes relating to strategy but so far, despite the emergence of the concept, there has not been a coherent approach identifiable in the literature. It is recognised that subsidiaries evolve over time and through their own actions and initiatives have the potential to modify the power structures of the Multinational Enterprise (MNE) but little is known about the role of the subsidiary manager in this process. We suggest that the tensions between the headquarters perspective and the subsidiary perspective have resulted in the application of inappropriate frameworks to the study of subsidiary managers. We propose that, the unique position which the subsidiary manager occupies within the overall context of the MNE requires the application of a specific framework which reflects this reality. The subsidiary manager performs the role of a middle manager within the overall MNE structure. To analyse this role we have adapted a framework of middle manager strategy development based on Floyd and Wooldridge’s (1992, , 1997) seminal work in the field of middle manager research. The framework outlined in this study extends Floyd and Wooldridge’s work to include three different types of Middle Manager Strategic activity; Upward, Downward and Horizontal. The items in the survey were developed particularly for the multinational subsidiary context. The model tests subsidiary manager’s engagement in strategy, the antecedents, and the outcomes of that role. A large scale mail survey of the entire population of multinational subsidiary was undertaken to test the model. Data analysis is currently underway. Applying the middle manager perspective to the subsidiary manager opens up the possibility to make important theoretical contributions to a number of research streams. Firstly, from an international business perspective, the middle manager framework could unlock valuable insights into how subsidiary managers engage in strategic activity. Secondly, for the strategy field, there is an opportunity to apply the middle manager framework of strategy development to a specific and underexplored setting. From a practitioner perspective there is potential to identify the distinctive abilities required to be a successful subsidiary manager in today’s global environment. The importance of these managers cannot be overstated. Their relative success in enacting their role can provide benefit to their own subsidiary unit, the global MNE, and the local economy in which they operate. A greater understanding of how they engage in this process may reveal the true value of the Subsidiary General Manager.