Journal of International Business Studies

, Volume 26, Issue 4, pp 729–753

Configurations of Strategy and Structure in Subsidiaries of Multinational Corporations

  • Julian M. Birkinshaw
  • Allen J. Morrison

DOI: 10.1057/palgrave.jibs.8490818

Cite this article as:
Birkinshaw, J. & Morrison, A. J Int Bus Stud (1995) 26: 729. doi:10.1057/palgrave.jibs.8490818


A three-fold typology of subsidiary roles (world mandate, specialized contributor, local implementer) was induced from the literature and its empirical validity was confirmed. Adopting a configurational approach, we then explored the ways in which subsidiary ‘structural context’ varies across subsidiary role types. Structural context characteristics were determined through a discussion of the underlying principles of the ‘hierarchy’ and ‘heterarchy’ models of multinational organization. The key findings were: (a) higher strategic autonomy in world mandates than in local implementers; (b) a more internationally configured value-chain in world mandates and specialized contributors than local implementers; (c) lower levels of internal product flows in world mandates than the other two types; and (d) a significantly lower performance in specialized contributors. Implications for a configurational model of subsidiary management, and for heterarchy as a higher level conceptualization, are discussed.

Copyright information

© Academy of International Business 1995

Authors and Affiliations

  • Julian M. Birkinshaw
    • 1
  • Allen J. Morrison
    • 2
  1. 1.Stockholm School of Economics
  2. 2.American Graduate School of International Management

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