Business group prevalence and impact across countries and over time

Michael Carney (John Molson School of Business, Concordia University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada)
Marc Van Essen (University of St. Gallen, St. Gallen, Switzerland)
Saul Estrin (London School of Economics and Political Science, London, UK)
Daniel Shapiro (Beedie School of Business, Simon Fraser University, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada)

Multinational Business Review

ISSN: 1525-383X

Publication date: 18 April 2017



The purpose of this paper is to examine two prominent perspectives on business group functioning, institutional void (IV) and entrenchment/exploitation (EE), that make different predictions about the effect of business group (BG) on the economy. The authors examine the effects of BG prevalence in an economy and its effect on macroeconomic outcomes including foreign direct inward and outward investment, innovation and development of the financial sector.


The authors build a unique database by extracting estimates of BG prevalence for multiple countries between 1978 and 2012 from the existing literature and use this to test conflicting predictions derived from the IV and EE perspectives, respectively.


The authors find no consistent evidence that BG prevalence diminishes over time with economic development as IVs diminish, which is predicted by the IV perspective. Instead, the long-term persistence of BGs in many countries appears to be more consistent with the EE perspective. However, this study also finds no support for the perspective that high levels of BG prevalence are negatively associated with country-level indicators and determinants of economic development and competitiveness, as suggested by that perspective.


The authors conclude that there is no robust support for either the IV or the EE perspective and highlight the need for more contextualized theorizing about the evolution of BGs.



Carney, M., Van Essen, M., Estrin, S. and Shapiro, D. (2017), "Business group prevalence and impact across countries and over time", Multinational Business Review, Vol. 25 No. 1, pp. 52-76.

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