This chapter considers the balance between central control and subsidiary autonomy in HR policy and practice. US multinationals have been shown to centralize control of international HR policy compared with multinationals of other nationalities. This chapter examines the organizational processes whereby particular patterns of centralization or autonomy are maintained, and how such patterns evolve over time. In explaining the mechanisms that drive changes in the centralization-autonomy balance, the chapter highlights the ability of actors at different levels of the multinational to influence policy choices through the deployment of a variety of power resources; the latter includes the leverage that local managers derive from their expert knowledge of the distinctive constraints and possibilities of their host business system. The factors that explain differences in the balance of centralization and autonomy between different multinationals are also explored.
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