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Article

Divinity Rules: Towards a Revised Typology of Multinational Corporate Parenting Styles

European Journal of International Management. 2017. Vol. 11. No. 4. P. 490-510.
Gurkov I. B., Morley M. J.

Based on a review of allied literatures, along with evidence from two waves of research conducted in a range of wholly owned multinational subsidiaries operating in Russia, we seek to reignite interest in corporate parenting theory. In an effort at so doing, we advance a revised and extended typology of multinational corporate parenting styles designed to capture the continuum of different approaches observable in multinational headquarter-subsidiary interactions. Invoking ancient Greek mythology, we propose a four-way classification of dominant styles. Multinational corporations pursing a Cronus parenting style emphasize exploitation and demonstrate a proclivity for continuously extracting value from their subsidiary units. In contrast, multinationals possessed of a Rhea parenting style focus on adding value to their subsidiaries. In adopting this posture, they place a strong emphasis on care and accommodation in parent-subsidiary interactions. Zeus style multinational parents encourage heroism among their offspring, something that is commonly leveraged through adding financial value to the subsidiary and extracting a range of other types of value in return. Finally, those multinational parents possessed of an Athena style place an emphasis on developing and safeguarding wisdom in their subsidiaries and display a continuous desire for a balanced exchange of value in their ongoing interactions. Arising from our revised typology of multinational corporate parenting styles and the illustrative case examples provided, we set down a number of possible lines of enquiry for future research.