Diversified Business Groups in the West: History and Theory

Forthcoming as Chapter 2 in Colpan and Hikino, 2017. (eds.), Business Groups in the West: Origins, Evolution and Resilience, Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Harvard Business School Research Paper Series # 17-035

61 Pages Posted: 27 Oct 2016

See all articles by Asli M. Colpan

Asli M. Colpan

Kyoto University - Graduate School of Management

Takashi Hikino

Kyoto University

Date Written: October 26, 2016

Abstract

This chapter examines the historical origins, evolutionary paths and long-term resilience of diversified business groups in contemporary developed economies of Western Europe, North America and Oceania. It aims to come up with a new theoretical understanding of diversified business groups and other comparable models of corporate organizations by broadening the analytical perspectives of the earlier approaches on the subject in terms of longitudinal and geographical scope. We suggest that the straightforward association of the general environmental settings of market immaturities and institutional voids with the existence of diversified business groups is rather incomplete in reality. Our findings draw attention to the importance of examining the national differences and historical shifts in larger contexts in understanding the evolution of different varieties of diversified business groups. We further argue that diversified business groups are not simply transitionary organizations that worked well only at the early phase of modern economic growth and shall not necessarily become an obstacle for dynamic development as the economies mature. Our research shows that while political institutions and capital markets have become powerful agents to dismantle those groups, a decisive factor to understand the resilience as well as effectiveness of that corporate model examine remains inside the business group itself. As the business groups flexibly evolve, they can adopt and fit in to remain as a viable organizational model even in mature markets.

Suggested Citation

Colpan, Asli M. and Hikino, Takashi, Diversified Business Groups in the West: History and Theory (October 26, 2016). Forthcoming as Chapter 2 in Colpan and Hikino, 2017. (eds.), Business Groups in the West: Origins, Evolution and Resilience, Oxford: Oxford University Press., Harvard Business School Research Paper Series # 17-035, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2860028

Asli M. Colpan (Contact Author)

Kyoto University - Graduate School of Management ( email )

Yoshida-Honmachi
Sakyo-ku
Kyoto, 606-8501
Japan

Takashi Hikino

Kyoto University ( email )

Yoshida-Honmachi
Sakyo-ku
Kyoto, 606-8501
Japan

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