Stimulating Sustainability in Multinational Companies: the Significance of Regional Headquarters

Andreas G.M. NACHBAGAUER

Abstract


Recently, regional headquarters have gained practical importance and theoretical attention. Traditionally considered a mere transmission facility to manage complex organisations, advanced approaches, however, locate regional headquarters in a field of tension between hierarchical integration and strategic independence. Given the growing concern for global responsibility, stimulating sustainability also and particularly addresses regional headquarters.

This conceptual article combines the call for sustainability with the upcoming importance of regional headquarters: which contributions can the regional headquarters of a multinational company deliver to stimulate the development of sustainable corporate strategy and operations?

The main topics are the effects different versions of embedding regional headquarters into the corporate context have on opportunities to implement sustainability policies: Are there different chances for successful implementation depending on the strategic setup of the company? Does the distribution of competences matter? Which types of interaction between headquarters and branch are suitable to introduce sustainability sustainably? Is the mix of national contexts of headquarters and branch of importance?

First results show that depending on the companywide strategy, and especially on the structure and distribution of competences, regional headquarters can play a significant role as trigger of sustainability. The literature favours strong involvement and large autonomy of both branches as well as regional headquarters for the development and management of sustainability. The parts of the company involved in a critical environment often are the starting point of sustainability policies.


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