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Special Collection: Corporate Headquarters in the 21st Century

Call for Papers (Deadline: 31 October 2018)

The Journal of Organization Design welcomes submissions to a new article collection focused on 'Corporate Headquarters in the 21st Century.' 


The corporate headquarters (CHQ) is a defining feature of all corporations and, thus, a key concern in organization and management research (Chandler, 1962, 1991; Menz, Kunisch, & Collis, 2015). Scholars have explored various aspects of the CHQ, including its roles (e.g., Arrfelt et al., 2015; Chandler, 1991; Foss, 1997), its size and staffing (e.g., Collis, Young, & Goold, 2007, 2012; Kleinbaum & Stuart, 2014; Menz & Scheef, 2014; Whittington et al., 2017), its functions and sub-units (e.g., Kunisch, Müller-Stewens, & Campbell, 2014; Menz & Barnbeck, 2017; Trichterborn, Knyphausen-Aufsess, & Schweizer, 2016), its disaggregation and dispersion (e.g., Nell, Kappen, & Laamanen, 2017), its location (e.g., Birkinshaw et al., 2006; Coeurderoy & Verbeke, 2016; Meyer & Benito, 2016), and its internal and external relations (e.g., Joseph & Ocasio, 2012; Kostova, Marano, & Tallman, 2016; Sengul & Gimeno, 2013). Collectively, these efforts have advanced our understanding of the CHQ and the functioning of corporations (see Kunisch, Menz, & Ambos, 2015; Menz et al., 2015). 

However, recent changes in corporations’ internal and external environments challenge extant knowledge about the CHQ and call for new research. First, the changing nature of modern corporations (Davis, 2016) suggests a need to rethink the roles and functions of the CHQ. For example, blurring firm boundaries and the rise of ecosystems can be expected to influence the nature and design of the CHQ. Second, novel CHQ forms are emerging, such as more dispersed and disaggregated CHQ, second homes, and even virtual headquarters. Finally, as technologies, automation, and artificial intelligence are increasingly penetrating businesses, we have to rethink the nature of CHQ work. For example, while information technology can be expected to reduce information-processing costs, it also enables the CHQ to take on new tasks, such as data analytics. In sum, these examples illustrate the need for a collective effort to revisit the functioning and design of the CHQ in the modern corporation. 

Aims and scope

Given these developments, the purpose of this Journal of Organization Design Special Collection is to shed new light on the design of the CHQ, especially with regard to different CHQ types, changes in the CHQ’s design, and whether and why the CHQ is necessary. Ultimately, these insights will help advance our understanding of the nature and functioning of corporations in the 21st century.

Possible research questions falling into four broad themes that reflect the scope of this collection include, but are not limited to, the following.

Formal and informal design
•    What are the boundaries of the CHQ? For example, what explains the rise of new CHQ forms (e.g., virtual CHQs, dispersed CHQs)? 
•    How do firms define CHQ subunits, and how do subunits affect innovation and strategic change? For example, which strategic, structural, and other factors affect decisions to locate a specific function (e.g., HR, IT, marketing, and strategy) in the CHQ? 
•    What interfaces do CHQs have (i.e., internal and external linkages)? What do such interfaces look like? What makes them more or less effective? For examples, what interfaces do CHQs have with other HQ layers such as regional or divisional HQ?
•    How are formal and informal designs related? For example, how do CHQ structures affect CHQ attention, incentives, collaboration, cognition, and decisions? 
•    How are CHQ design, corporate strategy and location related? For example, how does CHQ design affect corporate strategy and strategic change? How do location choices affect CHQ designs? 

People and staffing
•    Who are the key actors at the CHQ? For example, to what extent has the “C-suite” changed (i.e. rise of CSO, CMO positions)?
•    How and why are some career paths or experiences more suitable for preparing an executive for a CHQ position than others? For example, what are the (e.g., demographic and psychological) characteristics of CHQ managers and staff in general? Do they differ from those of managers and staff in the operating units? If so, how?
•    What are the requirements for a CHQ position (as opposed to a line-management position), and how do those requirements affect the selection and development of candidates? Specifically, is a CHQ position a career springboard or a dead-end?
•    How do various actors at the CHQ influence organizational outcomes, such as corporate strategy (i.e., M&A) and strategic change? For example, how do differences in the backgrounds of CHQ executives affect decisions regarding the design of the CHQ?
•    To what extent have staffing and roles at the CHQ changed over time (e.g., strategic planners)?

Tools and practices
•    What kinds of tools and practices are in place at the CHQ? For example, what is the role of benchmarking and best practices? 
•    How are CHQ tools and practices developed? How are they maintained? Do they have a tendency to deteriorate over time?
•    In what ways do CHQ structures and staffing affect the adoption of tools and practices? For example, which biases of CHQ actors influence the adoption of certain tools and practices?
•    Which kinds of tools and practices are more suitable in certain situations? For example, when do firms use corporate programs and/or strategic initiatives to formulate and implement corporate strategies? 
•    What are the relationships between various tools and various outcomes? For example, how does strategic planning and forecasting affect decision making?

Technology and resources
•    How do technology and automation change the nature and design of the CHQ? For example, what new CHQ designs are made possible by new technologies? 
•    How do technology and automation affect tasks at the CHQ? For example, how does technology affect information processing or resource-allocation decisions at the CHQ? 
•    In what ways and with what consequences does technology supplement or complement CHQ staff?
•    In what ways does CHQ staffing affect the adoption of technologies? For example, which biases of CHQ actors influence the adoption of technology?
•    In what ways does technology affect organizational outcomes? For example, how do new technologies affect the development of CHQ capabilities? How does technology enable the CHQ to create and capture value? 

The Journal of Organization Design publishes various article types, including research papers, research primers, translational, case studies, organization zoo, and points of view, all of which can be submitted to this special collection. Please refer to the journal home page for Submission Guidelines pertaining to each article type, as well as examples of published work.


Before submitting your manuscript, please ensure you have carefully read the submission guidelines for the Journal of Organization Design. The complete manuscript should be submitted here. To ensure your paper is considered for this Collection, please answer "yes" when asked whether you are planning to submit to a thematic series, and select the Collection name from the drop-down menu.  In addition, indicate within your cover letter that you wish your manuscript to be considered as part of this Collection. All submissions will undergo rigorous double-blind peer review and accepted articles will be published.

For questions regarding the content of this collection, please contact the guest editors.

Deadline for submission: 31 October 2018

Guest Editors

Sven Kunisch, Lead Guest Editor, is Associate Professor at Aarhus University in Denmark. He has held permanent and visiting positions at the University of St. Gallen (Switzerland), Harvard Business School (Harvard University, USA), Saïd Business School (Oxford University, UK), and WU Vienna (Austria). His work focuses on corporate strategy, strategic change, and executive successions. 

Markus Menz is Full Professor of Strategic Management at the Geneva School of Economics and Management (University of Geneva, Switzerland). Previously he was a Visiting Fellow at Harvard University. He researches strategic leadership and corporate strategy with a particular focus on chief strategy officers, top management team structures, and corporate HQs. 

David J. Collis of Harvard Business School is an expert on corporate strategy and global competition. The 65+ cases he has authored have sold over 1 million copies worldwide, and his articles over a quarter of a million copies, with more than 8,000 citations.

Journal of Organization Design Editors-in-Chief
John Joseph, University of California, Irvine, USA
Metin Sengul, Boston College, USA

Download the Call for Papers here.


  1. Arrfelt M, Wiseman RM, McNamara G, Hult GTM. 2015. Examining a Key Corporate Role: The Influence of Capital Allocation Competency on Business Unit Performance. Strategic Management Journal 36(7): 1017-1034.
  2. Birkinshaw J, Braunerhjelm P, Holm U, Terjesen S. 2006. Why Do Some Multinational Corporations Relocate Their Headquarters Overseas? Strategic Management Journal 27(7): 681-700.
  3. Chandler AD. 1962. Strategy and Structure: Chapters in the History of the American Industrial Enterprise. MIT Press: Cambridge, MA.
  4. Chandler AD. 1991. The Functions of the HQ Unit in the Multibusiness Firm. Strategic Management Journal 12: 31-50.
  5. Coeurderoy R, Verbeke A. 2016. The Unbalanced Geography of the World's Largest MNEs: Institutional Quality and Head Office Distribution across Countries. Global Strategy Journal 6(2): 127-148.
  6. Collis DJ, Young D, Goold M. 2007. The Size, Structure, and Performance of Corporate Headquarters. Strategic Management Journal 28(4): 383-405.
  7. Collis DJ, Young D, Goold M. 2012. The Size and Composition of Corporate Headquarters in Multinational Companies: Empirical Evidence. Journal of International Management 18(3): 260-275.
  8. Davis GF. 2016. The Vanishing American Corporation: Navigating the Hazards of a New Economy. Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc.: Oakland, CA.
  9. Foss NJ. 1997. On the Rationales of Corporate Headquarters. Industrial & Corporate Change 6(2): 313-338.
  10. Joseph J, Ocasio W. 2012. Architecture, Attention, and Adaptation in the Multibusiness Firm: General Electric from 1951 to 2001. Strategic Management Journal 33(6): 633-660.
  11. Kleinbaum AM, Stuart TE. 2014. Inside the Black Box of the Corporate Staff: Social Networks and the Implementation of Corporate Strategy. Strategic Management Journal 35(1): 24-47.
  12. Kostova T, Marano V, Tallman S. 2016. Headquarters-Subsidiary Relationships in MNCs: Fifty Years of Evolving Research. Journal of World Business 51(1): 176-184.
  13. Kunisch S, Menz M, Ambos B. 2015. Changes at Corporate Headquarters: Review, Integration and Future Research. International Journal of Management Reviews 17(3): 356-381.
  14. Kunisch S, Müller-Stewens G, Campbell A. 2014. Why Corporate Functions Stumble. Harvard Business Review 92(10): 110-117.
  15. Menz M, Barnbeck F. 2017. Determinants and Consequences of Corporate Development and Strategy Function Size. Strategic Organization 15(4): 481-503.
  16. Menz M, Kunisch S, Collis DJ. 2015. The Corporate Headquarters in the Contemporary Corporation: Advancing a Multimarket Firm Perspective. Academy of Management Annals 9(1): 633-714.
  17. Menz M, Scheef C. 2014. Chief Strategy Officers: Contingency Analysis of Their Presence in Top Management Teams. Strategic Management Journal 35(3): 461-471.
  18. Meyer K, Benito G. 2016. Where Do MNEs Locate Their Headquarters? At Home! Global Strategy Journal 6(2): 149-159.
  19. Nell PC, Kappen P, Laamanen T. 2017. Reconceptualising Hierarchies: The Disaggregation and Dispersion of Headquarters in Multinational Corporations. Journal of Management Studies 54(8): 1121-1143.
  20. Sengul M, Gimeno J. 2013. Constrained Delegation: Limiting Subsidiaries’ Decision Rights and Resources in Firms That Compete across Multiple Industries. Administrative Science Quarterly 58(3): 420-471.
  21. Trichterborn A, Knyphausen-Aufsess DZ, Schweizer L. 2016. How to Improve Acquisition Performance: The Role of a Dedicated M&A Function, M&A Learning Process, and M&A Capability. Strategic Management Journal 37(4): 763-773.
  22. Whittington R, Yakis-Douglas B, Ahn K, Cailluet L. 2017. Strategic Planners in More Turbulent Times: The Changing Job Characteristics of Strategy Professionals, 1960-2003. Long Range Planning 50(1): 108-119.


The Journal of Organization Design is the official journal of the Organizational Design Community.

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