Focusing on contextualized understandings of institutional distance and subsidiary agency, in this article I explore how multinational enterprise (MNE) subsidiaries address gender equality in the workplace. In particular, this study analyzes the strategic responses of three Korean MNE subsidiaries in Sweden to examine the extent to which they exercise agency over gender equality issues within specific institutional environment. In Swedish institutional environment, there is high demand for subsidiaries to develop gender-balanced organizational cultures and practices. As a result, Korean subsidiaries may actively consider promoting a more gender-equal working environment to gain local legitimacy, or they may retain their home country’s practices and avoid such pressures. The analysis shows that the subsidiaries’ perceptions of institutional distance and the organizational conditions in which subsidiaries are embedded shape their agency (strategic responses) and co-evolve with host institutions. I thus contribute to existing MNE agency literature by highlighting subsidiaries’ agency building process regarding gender equality issues.
- gender equality
- institutional distance
- strategic response
- multinational enterprises (MNEs)