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Corporate headquarters, or the head office as it is sometimes referred to, is the location where the executives of a business work and where many of the key business decisions are made. The corporate headquarters, in general, act as the central hub of operation from which a business is run. It is distinct from satellite offices and locations where other branches of the corporation work.
The chief executive officer, the chief financial officer, and other key personnel in the running of the company often have their offices in the corporate headquarters. Corporate governance takes place there, and these principal entities make decisions from these offices which are then communicated to others. Most other branches or divisions of the company generally report to the headquarters and employees may visit there periodically for training or other instructions.
Activities generally conducted at corporate headquarters include making decisions about the direction and planning of the business. Much of the financial information and accounting of a company is also generally managed at corporate headquarters, where the accounting department is often located. Other activities conducted at a corporation's head office include legal decisions and the filing of taxes.
The corporate headquarters may or may not be in the location in which the business is incorporated. A business is considered to be incorporated in the state in which the incorporation papers were filed. Many companies incorporate in the state of Delaware, even if their headquarters and there business is conducted elsewhere. The reason that many businesses choose to file their incorporation papers in Delaware relates to the special laws that apply to businesses within the state. In Delaware, business issues and suits against corporations are handled in separate court systems, and the laws in Delaware are widely considered to be more favorable to businesses than the laws in other states.
The headquarters is often selected by the founders of the company to be conveniently located to where they live. Branch offices may then be opened, either locally, within the country or internationally. Companies, however, generally do not have two corporate headquarters, even if they are international companies, although they may have branches that take on some of the responsibility for making corporate decisions in other countries. For example, if a company is headquartered in New York but has an office in London, the company may assign a specific location in London to act as the London headquarters and to perform the tax function and legal compliance function within the United Kingdom.