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Trapped in a vicious circle: can low-weight subsidiaries get headquarters’ attention?

Hammad ul Haq (Department of Business, Studies, Uppsala University, Kyrkogårdsgatan, Uppsala, Sweden)

Critical Perspectives on International Business

ISSN: 1742-2043

Article publication date: 2 May 2017




Subsidiaries use their weight and/or voice to get attention for the initiatives they share with the headquarters. The purpose of this paper is to examine whether subsidiaries with a low weight can effectively use their voice to get the headquarters’ attention.


This paper is a combination of the attention-based view of the firm and the issue-selling literature applied to the context of subsidiaries selling their initiatives to the headquarters of a multinational corporation.


Subsidiaries with a low weight are trapped in a vicious circle in which they are unable to get more influence and gain a central position in the organization through the initiative-taking approach. This problem may mainly be attributed to their limited access to (or even entire lack of) direct and rich communication with the headquarters, which impedes the ability of these subsidiaries to gain knowledge about headquarters and the organization in general. As a result, low-weight subsidiaries are unable to make the correct decisions about which selling moves to use regarding initiatives that are able to capture headquarters’ attention; this inability means that they are less likely to gain approval from headquarters for implementing the proposed initiatives.


Subsidiary voice is not an accessible and effective bottom-up tool available to low-weight subsidiaries for gaining influence, which is contrary to what is claimed by extant mainstream research in international business and strategy. Hence, subsidiaries with low weight are completely marginalized from the sharing of subsidiary initiatives that takes place within multinational corporations.



Haq, H.u. (2017), "Trapped in a vicious circle: can low-weight subsidiaries get headquarters’ attention?", Critical Perspectives on International Business, Vol. 13 No. 2, pp. 166-179.



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