Management International Review

, Volume 54, Issue 6, pp 879–906 | Cite as

Clusters and Regional Management Structures by Western MNCs in Asia: Overcoming the Distance Challenge

  • Bruno Amann
  • Jacques Jaussaud
  • Johannes SchaaperEmail author
Research Article


Recent literature suggests that multinational companies pursue regional rather than global strategies. Therefore, this study investigates regional management structures, using French multinational companies (MNCs) in the Asia–Pacific region as an empirical context, to address two research questions: first, do MNCs split Asia into subregions and, if so, what are the resulting clusters of countries and clustering criteria? Second, what kind of regional management structures do MNCs establish in Asia, and what are their roles and functions? Factors, such as MNC size, the size of host markets, or the nature of their activities, might explain some differences. The authors conducted 77 face-to-face interviews with expatriated managers in charge of the subsidiaries or regional management structures of 47 French MNCs located in 11 countries in Asia, then crossed these data with secondary sources of information. Nearly half the MNCs subdivide the Asia–Pacific region into clusters of countries, where they locate regional management centres (regional headquarters, regional offices, distribution centres, local offices) with substantial functions and roles. The main drivers of a regional Asian strategy and organisation are the overall size of the MNC and its sales in Asia; the presence of manufacturing activities does not exert any influence. This research identifies ten clusters of countries in Asia, determined by the French MNCs in our sample, on the basis of four main criteria: market orientation/economic logic, geographical and institutional proximity, cultural differences, and the MNC’s own characteristics. Smaller MNCs do not slice Asia into clusters but rather centralise regional decisions and control procedures, implementing few regional management centres in Asia and giving them limited roles and functions.


Multinational companies Clusters Regional management centres Subsidiaries Regional organisation Autonomy Control Asia 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Bruno Amann
    • 1
  • Jacques Jaussaud
    • 2
  • Johannes Schaaper
    • 3
    • 4
    Email author
  1. 1.LGCUniversity of ToulouseToulouseFrance
  2. 2.CREGUniversity of Pau et des Pays de l’Adour (UPPA)PauFrance
  3. 3.Kedge Business SchoolMarseilleFrance
  4. 4.CREGUniversity of Pau et des Pays de l’Adour (UPPA)TalenceFrance

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