The paper describes the application of a qualitative diary method combined with in-depth interviews in the context of headquarters-subsidiary cooperation. We examine the distinct requirements of studying shared understanding in the case of distributed teams and argue that further research is necessary in order to explain inter-team conflicts arising from incongruent understandings and divergent expectations. Building on this research gap, we perform a case study in the headquarters of a multinational technology company and one of its subsidiaries. With the help of Event Sampling Methodology (ESM) and in-depth interviews, we were able to identify, analyze and comprehend situations characterized by lacking shared understanding. By this, our research contributes to the methodical discussion on event sampling methods and proposes new fields of application. Furthermore, it contributes to the international management literature by analyzing misunderstandings in international R&D cooperation.


Diary Methods, Event Sampling Methodology, International Management, Headquarters-Subsidiary Cooperation, Shared Understanding, Distributed Project Development

Author Bio(s)

Fanny Seus is research associate at the Chair of Innovation and Technology Management at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) and a visiting researcher at Fraunhofer Institute for Systems and Innovation ISI. She holds a diplôme Sciences Po from Sciences Po Rennes, a master's degree in political science from the Catholic University Eichstätt-Ingolstadt as well as a master's degree in applied economics from Université Lille 1 Sciences et Technologies. In her research, she focuses on headquarters-subsidiary relationships in the context of international R&D cooperation. Please direct correspondence to fanny.seus@partner.kit.edu.

Univ.-Prof. Dr. Marion A. Weissenberger-Eibl holds the Chair for Innovation and Technology Management at the Institute for Entrepreneurship, Technology Management and Innovation (ENTECHNON) at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT). Furthermore, she is head of the Fraunhofer Institute for Systems and Innovation Research ISI. Professor Weissenberger-Eibl works on the conditions conducive to innovations and their impacts. Her research focus is on the management of innovation and technology, roadmapping, strategic foresight and planning, enterprise networks and knowledge management. Professor Weissenberger-Eibl, who was recently named one of the “Most Influential Women Engineers in Germany” and “Top 100 Most Influential Women of the German Economy,” studied clothing technology and business administration. She obtained her doctorate and wrote her habilitation thesis at the Technical University of Munich.


An earlier version of this paper was presented at the EURAM'18, Conference of the European Academy of Management, on 19-22 June 2018 in Reykjavík. The authors would like to thank all the participants and the managers of the company who made this study possible.

Publication Date


Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 4.0 International License.





To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.