A Contextualized Model of Headquarters-subsidiary Agency Problems

Tatiana Kostova, Phillip Christopher Nell, Anne Kristin Hoenen

    Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperResearchpeer-review


    This paper proposes an agency model for headquarters-subsidiary relationships in multinational organizations with headquarters as the principal and the subsidiary as the agent. As a departure from classical agency theory, our model is developed for the unit level of analysis and considers two root causes of the agency problem – self-interest and bounded rationality. We argue that one cannot assume absolute self-interest and perfect rationality of agents but should allow them to vary. We explain subsidiary-level variation through a set of internal organizational and external social conditions in which the headquarters-subsidiary dyad is embedded. We then discuss several agency scenarios that lead to different manifestations of the agency problem. The framework informs more relevant applications of agency theory in organizational studies and motivates future research.
    Original languageEnglish
    Publication date2016
    Publication statusPublished - 2016
    EventSMS Special Conference Hong Kong: Contextualizing Strategic Management in Asia: Institutions, Innovation and Internationalization - The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong
    Duration: 10 Dec 201612 Dec 2016


    ConferenceSMS Special Conference Hong Kong
    LocationThe Chinese University of Hong Kong
    Country/TerritoryHong Kong
    Internet address

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