European Acquisitions in the United States: Re-Examining Olivetti-Underwood Fifty Years Later

53 Pages Posted: 13 Mar 2013

See all articles by Federico Barbiellini Amidei

Federico Barbiellini Amidei

Bank of Italy

Andrea Goldstein

Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD)

Marcella Spadoni

University of Turin

Date Written: March 25, 2010

Abstract

While Italy's catch-up in the course of the 20th century has been nothing short of extraordinary, it has failed to produce a large number of global business players. Nonetheless, half a century ago an Italian company concluded what was at the time the largest-ever foreign takeover of a US company. The paper analyzes the Olivetti's acquisition of Underwood and frames it in the broader picture of the literature on the management and performance of foreign companies in the United States. We provide a historical narrative focused on three main issues: 1) head office control and subsidiary autonomy; 2) Olivetti's adaptation to the American business system; 3) the development of internal knowledge resources within the subsidiary. Lessons and implications are relevant for business historians and management scholars in general.

Keywords: FDI, acquisition, control, adaptation, knowledge resources, Olivetti, Underwood

JEL Classification: L11, M4, N60, N80, F23

Suggested Citation

Barbiellini Amidei, Federico and Goldstein, Andrea and Spadoni, Marcella, European Acquisitions in the United States: Re-Examining Olivetti-Underwood Fifty Years Later (March 25, 2010). Bank of Italy Economic History Working Paper No. 2, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2231985 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2231985

Federico Barbiellini Amidei (Contact Author)

Bank of Italy ( email )

Via Nazionale 91
Rome, 00184
Italy

Andrea Goldstein

Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD) ( email )

2 rue Andre Pascal
Paris Cedex 16, 75775
France

Marcella Spadoni

University of Turin ( email )

Via Po 53
Torino, Turin - Piedmont 10100
Italy

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