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Determinants of variable pay for top managers of foreign subsidiaries in Finland

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There is a large body of research dealing with top management compensation from an agency theory perspective. Difficulties in monitoring top management (the agent) are exacerbated in the multinational corporation, where there are significant information asymmetries between headquarters and foreign subsidiaries. Headquarters may use variable pay for subsidiary top managers to reduce the agency problems. By studying 110 foreign-owned subsidiaries located in Finland, this paper attempts to identify determinants of variable pay to the subsidiary general manager. In line with agency theory, the results suggest that the roles played by the subsidiary influence the compensation strategy used for the subsidiary general manager. However, while agency theory predicts that the cultural distance beween the home country of the multinational corporation and the location of the foreign subsidiary would have an effect on the compensation system, no such effect was found. Instead, in accordance with the institutionalization perspective, we found a significant 'nationality effect' on the use of variable pay.

Keywords: INSTITUTIONALIZATION THEORY; SUBSIDIARY ROLES IN THE MNC; THEORY; VARIABLE PAY AGENCY

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Swedish School of Economics, PO Box 479, FIN-00101 Helsinki,

Publication date: August 1, 2000

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