The nationality of contemporary multinational corporations has become increasingly ambiguous, and this ambiguity is far from exclusive to the current global economy; a similar past ambivalence occurred with multinational investments in Portuguese colonies. This study analyses how multinationals handle strategic decision-making and governance when the corporate centre is ambiguous. It uses archival data on actual corporate decisions to explore how the headquarters’ strategic and administrative functions split across national centres. The results emphasise that the balance of power among different locations depended on accessing capital, knowledge, and specialised services. Three dynamic factors emerged to explain the changes in corporate decision-making configurations over time: project management capabilities, the project’s duration, and capital intensity. However, there was no single evolutionary profile. Combining or choosing between nationality legacies for locating corporate functions was a strategic choice, more dependent on firm-specific aspects than on contextual constraints. Supplemental data for this article is available online at https://doi.org/10.1080/00076791.2020.1797683.
- colonial business
- corporate strategy