Subsidiary Driven Problem Solving

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Aim of Study

This study focuses on how subsi­diary mana­gers of multi­na­tional corpo­ra­tions (MNCs) respond to unique orga­ni­sa­tional chal­lenges, so-called "non-­rou­tine problems". Such a non-­rou­tine problem requires firms to enter into a problem solving process that ques­tions esta­blished processes, prac­tices or capa­bi­li­ties to find novel answers. While such problem solving is very chal­len­ging, it also repres­ents an oppor­tu­nity for inno­va­tion and for making a stra­te­gi­cally important cont­ri­bu­tion to the wider corpo­ra­tion. The latter could be of stra­tegic import­ance to the subsi­diary, espe­cially in times of incre­a­sing pres­sures on subsi­diary manage­ment to demons­trate their value to the corpo­ra­tion.

Process of Survey

We invite subsi­dia­ries to parti­ci­pate in a struc­tured exami­na­tion of orga­ni­sa­tional problem solving. We inves­ti­gate non-­rou­tine problems initiated by the subsi­diary and completed during the past 12 months. The exami­na­tion of selected problem solving processes includes two diffe­rent ques­ti­on­naires: one answered by subsi­diary manage­ment (Ques­ti­on­naire 1), one by the project leader (Ques­ti­on­naire 2).

Rese­arch Process


Back­ground of Study

This study has already been conducted in 29 subsi­diary orga­ni­sa­tions in the ICT and phar­maceu­tical industry in Ireland and France. To further extend our findings, the survey will examine subsi­dia­ries in Austria and the CEE region. This survey is a joint rese­arch project of Univer­sity College Dublin (UCD), Vienna Univer­sity of Econo­mics and Busi­ness (WU) and Grenoble Ecole de Manage­ment and it is funded by the Euro­pean Commis­sion, the Irish Rese­arch Council and Vienna Univer­sity of Econo­mics and Busi­ness (WU).

Rese­arch Team


Dr. Esther Tipp­mann is a Post-doc­toral Rese­arch Fellow at Univer­sity College Dublin (UCD). Her rese­arch inte­rests include the activi­ties of subsi­diary mana­gers and micro-­per­spec­tives on know­ledge and capa­bi­lity deve­lop­ment in multi­na­tional corpo­ra­tions, and she has colla­bo­rated closely with subsi­diary orga­ni­sa­tions in Ireland and France.

Contact: esther.tipp­man­n@ucd.ie or +353 1 716 4722


MMag. Renate Kratochvil is a rese­arch and teaching asso­ciate at the Insti­tute for Inter­na­tional Busi­ness at the Vienna Univer­sity of Econo­mics and Busi­ness (WU). Her areas of rese­arch include MNC problem formu­la­tion and solving, problem solving processes and head­quar­ter-­sub­si­diary rela­tions.

Contact: renate.kratoch­vil@wu.ac.at or +43 1 31336 4277


Univ. Prof. Dr. Phillip Nell, Vienna Univer­sity of Econo­mics and Busi­ness (WU), centers his rese­arch on the orga­niza­tion of the multi­na­tional corpo­ra­tion, the manage­ment of subsi­dia­ries, and the role head­quar­ters play in large and complex orga­niza­t­ions. Further­more, he is inte­rested in the role analy­tics and data manage­ment play for stra­tegic deci­sion making and firm perfor­mance.

Contact: phillip.nell@wu.ac.at or +43 1 31336 4535


Prof. Andrew Parker, Grenoble Ecole de Manage­ment, conducts rese­arch in the area of social networks, orga­ni­sa­tional theory, careers and labour markets. He is the co-author of The Hidden Power of Social Networks.

Contact: andrew.parker@gre­no­ble-em.com, +33 6 8577 2833

For addi­tional infor­ma­tion please do not hesi­tate to contact Renate Kratochvil and down­load the project descrip­tion.