1590 The Role of Subsidiaries in MNCs
Benoit Decreton, MSc,MIM(CEMS)
Contact details
Weekly hours
Language of instruction
09/18/18 to 09/25/18
Registration via LPIS
Notes to the course
Day Date Time Room
Thursday 10/04/18 02:00 PM - 06:00 PM TC.4.02
Thursday 10/11/18 02:00 PM - 06:00 PM TC.4.04
Thursday 10/18/18 02:00 PM - 06:00 PM TC.5.18
Thursday 10/25/18 02:00 PM - 06:00 PM TC.4.02
Thursday 11/15/18 02:00 PM - 06:00 PM TC.3.11
Thursday 11/22/18 02:00 PM - 06:00 PM TC.4.14

The management of multiple subsidiaries located in diverse contexts is a challenging task for managers in headquarters of multinational corporations. In this course, we will focus on the relationships between headquarters and subsidiaries of multinational corporations and investigate how headquarters managers can successfully organize a network of subsidiaries.


With insights from research and practice, we will address these types of questions:

  • How can headquarters organize the development and transfer of knowledge across their subsidiaries?
  • When are headquarters involved in their subsidiaries? When should headquarters give their subsidiaries autonomy?
  • How do subsidiaries react to unrealistic requests from headquarters?
  • How can headquarters add value to their subsidiaries?


The course content will be organized as follows:

  • Session 1: Introduction to management of international subsidiaries
  • Session 2: Subsidiaries as local implementers + DeliverMeal Case
  • Session 3: Subsidiaries as technology scouts + BT Group Case
  • Session 4: Managing subsidiaries in crisis situations + Tetra Pak Case
  • Session 5: Adding value to foreign subsidiaries + Packaging Group Case
  • Session 6: Open book exam
Learning outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

  • Knowledge and understanding of the management ofmultinational corporations
  • Understanding of the tensions betweenheadquarters and subsidiaries
  • Familiarity with examples of key research andcases on the topic of headquarters-subsidiary relationships

Cognitive and Subject Specific Skills

  • Ability to address problems related to the management offoreign subsidiaries
  • Ability to analyze how the environment influences the rolesand functions of subsidiaries and headquarters
  • Ability to develop and assess multiple scenarios

Key Skills

  • Rapidly structure ideas and presentations both asindividuals and as members of a team
  • Organizational skills in relation to teamwork, presentationand writing skills
Attendance requirements

Possibility to miss up to one session without affecting the participation grade.

Teaching/learning method(s)

We will use cases from multinationalcorporations active in the e-commerce, telecom, and packagingindustries, among others. Cases will be uploaded on learn@wu and should be read before class. In the last session, students will be given a case similar to those used in class and will have to answer a few questions. The exam will be open book.


Overall, students will be assessed on:

  • Their ability to understand and critically discuss challenges related to headquarters-subsidiary relationships
  • The quality of the oral contributions
  • Their analytical skills when solving management cases


The final grade will be based on the following elements:

  • Participation in class (40%)
  • Final exam essay (50%)
  • Final exam presentation (10%)
Last edited: 2018-06-22