Document Type

Dissertation

Degree

Doctor of Philosophy

Department

Business Administration

First Advisor's Name

Aya Chacar

First Advisor's Title

Committee Chair

Second Advisor's Name

William Newburry

Third Advisor's Name

William D. Schneper

Fourth Advisor's Name

Mihaela J. Pintea

Fifth Advisor's Name

Stephen Tallman

Keywords

Country relatedness, International coherence, International investments, Decision making, Cognition

Date of Defense

4-2011

Abstract

Understanding how decisions for international investments are made and how this affects the overall pattern of investments and firm’s performance is of particular importance both in strategy and international business research. This dissertation introduced first home-host country relatedness (HHCR) as the degree to which countries are efficiently combined within the investment portfolios of firms. It theorized and demonstrated that HHCR will vary with the motivation for investments along at least two key dimensions: the nature of foreign investments and the connectedness of potential host countries to the rest of the world.

Drawing on cognitive psychology and decision-making research, it developed a theory of strategic decision making proposing that strategic solutions are chosen close to a convenient anchor. Building on research on memory imprinting, it also proposed that managers tend to rely on older knowledge representation. In the context of international investment decisions, managers use their home countries as an anchor and are more likely to choose as a site for foreign investments host countries that are ‘close’ to the home country. These decisions are also likely to rely more strongly on closeness to time invariant country factors of historic and geographic nature rather than time-variant institutions. Empirical tests using comprehensive investments data by all public multinational companies (MNC) worldwide, or over 15,000 MNCs with over half a million subsidiaries, support the claims.

Finally, the dissertation introduced the concept of International Coherence (IC) defined as the degree to which an MNE’s network comprises countries that are related. It was hypothesized that maintaining a high level of coherence is important for firm performance and will enhance it. Also, the presence of international coherence mitigates some of the negative effects of unrelated product diversification. Empirical tests using data on foreign investments of over 20,000 public firms, while also developing a home-host country relatedness index for up to 24,300 home-host pairs, provided support for the theory advanced.

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