International search behavior of Business Group affiliated firms: Scope of institutional changes and intragroup heterogeniety

Sathyajit Gubbi, Preet S. Aulakh, Sougata Ray

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53 Citations (Scopus)
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This paper investigates whether and when affiliation to business groups enables or constrains firms’ international search behavior during institutional transitions. We theorize that given the unique structure and complex form of business group organizations, the search behavior of affiliated firms is influenced by the degree of (mis)alignment in outlook at the group and affiliate levels of management. We identify the scope of institutional changes, business group attributes, and affiliate characteristics as sources of such (mis)alignment. The results from panel data on 298 firms from the Indian pharmaceutical industry for the 1992–2007 period show that the constraining effects of business group affiliation are observed only when institutional changes are specific to the affiliates’ industry and not when broad institutional changes affect the business group as a whole. Moreover, we observe heterogeneity in the search behavior of group affiliated firms. First, the degree of misalignment is greater in the case of affiliates belonging to older business groups and those that are more distant in terms of age and industry since the group’s founding. Second, by contrast and suggesting an alignment in outlook, we find that affiliated firms that occupy a prominent position within a group or industry are able to bargain for and receive attention and support from the business group to undertake international search. Our findings have implications for research on the role of business groups in a changing institutional context and for the strategic adaptation of firms embedded in complex organizational and institutional settings.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1485-1501
Number of pages17
JournalOrganization Science
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2015

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