MNC/MNE, control, change, flexibility, case study, headquarters- subsidiary relations
The issue of control in multinational corporations (MNCs) is central to international business scholarship.
However, prior literature tends to provide a static perspective offering few theoretical insights on control
changes, especially the practices that enable control adjustments. Adopting a practice theory perspective,
we consider control as “in the making” whereby adjustments emerge through a social accomplishment,
constituted and reconstituted as headquarters and subsidiaries engage in a co-creating process. Using a
longitudinal case study approach, we had the rare opportunity to track and compare an unsuccessful and a
successful attempt to adjust control in an MNC over time. Our main theoretical contribution is a model of
adjusting control in MNCs that details the practices that enable control changes. This model offers
theoretical implications for organizational control theory in MNCs, especially in relation to theorizing the
subsidiary contribution in the design of control, reconciliation of raised tensions in headquarterssubsidiary
relationships and nature of unintended consequences in the adjustment process. Our study also
contributes to theories on MNC change as it details the construction of an ongoing strategy-structure
alignment for strategic flexibility.