The Perils of Attention from Headquarters

by Cyril Bouquet, Jean-Louis Barsoux and Orly Levy
published by MIT Sloan Management Review, 2015
Ref SMR56205
 

The Perils of Attention from HeadquartersOperations in growing markets such as China often draw substantial attention from corporate headquarters, write the authors of this article. But unfortunately, the attention doesn’t always add value and can even impede performance.

The authors focused on studying actual visits from head office, rather than other types of interaction such as telephone, email and requests for reports. They found that only about a quarter of the managers interviewed by the authors were broadly satisfied with the quantity and quality of attention received from HQ. Many said that HQ prevented them from achieving a higher performance.

Typical complaints against HQ included the number of visits received, the increased workload generated by visits from HQ, and a perceived lack of understanding and realism on the part of HQ executives.

The authors go on to offer advice to HQ executives for healthy interactions with China subsidiaries and also suggest that subsidiary managers need to move beyond their frustrations with HQ and take some responsibility for managing the relationship.

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About the authors

Cyril Bouquet is a professor of strategy at IMD, Lausanne, Switzerland.

Jean-Louis Barsoux and Orly Levy are Senior Reasearch Fellows at IMD.

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