How MNE subsidiaries transfer HRM practices in distant environments: A tale of two IKEA subsidiaries

Ji-Won Song*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


While most research in the international business field focuses on the impact of the national institutional environment on multinational enterprises (MNEs), this paper explores the opposite relationship—the role and impact of MNE subsidiaries on the host country institutional environment. I analyze the subsidiaries' agency in the transfer activities of human resource management (HRM) practices by bringing the case of IKEA subsidiaries in Korea and Japan and find that these subsidiaries not only adapted to pressures arising from an institutional distance but also played an important role in influencing the institutional arrangement for employment system of their host countries. With a contextualized agency model, this study finds that institutional and organizational contexts that these subsidiaries are embedded in shaped their agencies and strategic responses and co-evolved with their host institutional environments while transferring HRM practices. These findings have implications for the IB and IHRM field, as they highlight the potential of MNE subsidiaries as agents.
Original languageEnglish
Article number100850
JournalJournal of International Management
Issue number2
Early online date24 Apr 2021
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2021


  • multinational enterprises (MNEs)
  • agency
  • subsidiarity
  • comparative institutional analysis
  • HR practices
  • institutional change
  • subsidiary
  • HRM practice transfer
  • institutional distance


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