Finance and Strategy: Volume 31


Table of contents

(17 chapters)

The relevance of finance for strategy is probably never greater than during a recession. We argue that the strategy literature has been virtually silent on the issue of recessions, and that this constitutes a regrettable sin of omission. Recessions are also periods when the commonly held view of financial markets in the strategy literature – efficient, and therefore strategically irrelevant – is particularly misplaced. A key route to rectify this omission is to focus on how recessions affect investment behavior, and thereby firms’ stocks of assets and capabilities which ultimately will affect competitive outcomes. In the present chapter, we aim to contribute by analyzing how two key aspects of recessions, demand reductions and reductions in credit availability, affect three different types of investments: physical capital, R&D and innovation, and human- and organizational capital. We synthesize and conceptualize insights from finance- and macroeconomics about how recessions affect different types of investments and find that recessions not only affect the level of investment, but also the composition of investments. Some of these effects are quite counterintuitive. For example, investments in R&D are both more and less sensitive to credit constraints than physical capital is, depending on available internal finance. Investments in human capital grow as demand falls, and both R&D and human capital investments show important nonlinearities with respect to changes in demand.


Using a large sample of diversified firms from 38 countries we investigate the influence of several national-level institutional factors or “institutional voids” on the value of corporate diversification. Specifically, we explore whether the presence of frictions in a country’s capital markets, labor markets, and product markets, affects the excess value of diversified firms. We find that the value of diversified firms relative to their single-segment peers is higher in countries with less-efficient capital and labor markets, but find no evidence that product market efficiency affects the relative value of diversification. These results provide support for the theory of internal capital markets that argues that internal capital allocation would be relatively more beneficial in the presence of frictions in the external capital markets. In addition, the results show that diversification can be beneficial in the presence of frictions in the labor market.


In M&A markets, acquirers face a hold-up problem of losing the value of investments they make in due diligence, negotiations, and post-acquisition planning if targets would pursue the options of waiting for better offers or selling to an alternative bidder. This chapter extends information economics to the literature on M&A contracting by arguing that such contracting problems are more likely to occur for targets with better outside options created by the information available on their resources and prospects. We also argue that acquirers address these contracting problems by using termination payment provisions to safeguard their investments. While previous research in corporate strategy and finance has suggested that certain factors can facilitate an acquisition by reducing a focal acquirer’s risk of adverse selection (e.g., signals, certifications), we note that these same factors can make the target attractive to other potential bidders and can exacerbate the risk of hold-up, thereby leading acquirers to use termination payment provisions as contractual safeguards.


Financial analysts act as crucial conduits of information between firms and stakeholders. However, comparatively little is known about how these information intermediaries evaluate the believability and importance of corporate disclosures. We argue that a firm’s level of managerial discretion, or latitude of executive action, acts as a cue for financial analysts, which helps them interpret and respond to voluntary management earnings forecasts. Our study provides strong, robust evidence that financial analysts find management forecasts significantly less believable in low-discretion than in high-discretion environments, and therefore tend to be much less responsive to these forecasts. We also show that managerial discretion is especially impactful on analysts’ responses in those circumstances where analysts are typically most uncertain about how to interpret management forecasts.


We propose that in addition to its resources and capabilities, a firm’s capital structure and financial health will act as an important determinant of its attractiveness as an alliance partner. Alliances with leveraged firms are prone to unplanned termination due to financial distress, which puts at risk the value embedded in the collaboration. As a result, ceteris paribus, highly leveraged firms will be viewed as less desirable partners in the market for interfirm collaboration when compared to low leverage firms. In support of this proposition, we find that when forming an alliance firms tend to partner with other firms with similar levels of leverage: low-leverage firms partner with other low-leverage firms while high-leverage firms partner with other high-leverage firms, as well as with lower quality ones. Furthermore, we show that alliances with highly leveraged firms are more likely to involve equity participation as a form of ex post protection, especially when they involve partners with relatively lower leverage. Finally, we show that leverage is negatively related to the intensity of alliance activity, suggesting that firms also maintain lower leverage in their capital structure in order to attract potential partners. Overall our results imply that financial policies regarding capital structure have an important role to play in alliancing activity.


We investigate whether active involvement of private equity firms in their portfolio companies during the holding period of a later-stage private equity investment is related to increased levels in operating performance of these companies. Our analysis of unique survey data on 267 European buyouts and secondary performance data on 29 portfolio companies using partial least squares structural equation modeling indicates that private equity firms, that is, their board representatives, can increase operating performance not only by monitoring the behavior of top managers of portfolio companies, but also by becoming involved in strategic decisions and supporting top managers through the provision of strategic resources. Strategic resources, in particular expertise and networks, provided by private equity firm representatives in the form of financial and strategic involvement are associated with increases in the financial performance and competitive prospects of portfolio companies. Operational involvement, however, is not related to changes in operating performance. In addition to empirical insights into the different types of involvement and their effects, this chapter contributes to the buyout literature by providing support for the suggested broadening of the theoretical discussion beyond the dominant perspective of agency theory through developing and testing a complementary resource-based view of involvement. This allows taking into account not only the monitoring, but also the more entrepreneurial supporting element of involvement by private equity firms.


We explore factors determining board membership of venture capitalists (VCs) in a syndicate in privately held entrepreneurial ventures. We suggest that board membership is determined by the bargaining process between VCs and new ventures in governing those ventures. Specifically, VCs are more likely to become board members in new ventures if they are highly reputable due to the success of their prior new venture investees, whereas VCs are less likely to gain board rights in new ventures with greater bargain power from superior innovation or marketing track records. Our empirical analysis using 1,812 dyads of investment ties formed between VCs and new ventures support our predictions.


To show that differences in the extent to which firms engage in unrelated diversification can be attributed to differences in ownership structure.


We draw on longitudinal data and use a panel analysis specification to test our hypotheses.


We find that unrelated diversification destroys value; pressure-sensitive Anglo-American owners in a firm’s equity reduce unrelated diversification, whereas pressure-resistant domestic owners increase unrelated diversification; the greater the firm’s free cash flow, the greater the negative effect of pressure-sensitive Anglo-American owners on unrelated diversification.

Research limitations/implications

We contribute to corporate governance and strategy research by bringing in owners’ institutional origin as a shaper of owner preferences in particular with regards to unrelated diversification. Future research may expand our investigation to more than one home institutional context, and theorize on institutional origin effects beyond the dichotomy between Anglo-American and non-Anglo-American (not oriented toward shareholder value maximization) owners.

Practical implications

Policy makers, financial analysts, owners, and managers may want to reflect about the implications of ownership structure, as well as promoting or joining corporations with particular ownership configurations.

Social implications

A shareholder value-destroying strategy, such as unrelated diversification has adverse consequences for society at large, in terms of opportunity costs, that is, resources could be allocated to value-creating activities instead. Promoting an ownership configuration that creates value should contribute to social welfare.


Owners may not be exclusively driven by shareholder value maximization, but can be influenced by normative beliefs (biases) stemming from the institutional context they originate from.


This study empirically examines the relationship between institutional ownership and innovation activity in the unique setting of the clinical trials for US biopharmaceutical companies. We used multiple statistical techniques in the period from 1990 through 2006 for firms in the biopharmaceutical industry to examine this relationship. Contrary to the widely believed relationship discussed in the literature, our findings suggest that institutional investors vary in their reactions to innovative progress. Specifically, we find that institutional investors with a long-term investment horizon (i.e., dedicated owners) increase their holdings of a firm’s equity as the number of the firm’s products increases in phases I and II of FDA clinical trials. These findings are robust for heteroskedasticity and autocorrelation as well as for different operationalizations of the change of institutional ownership.


Innovation is a key driver of a firm’s ability to survive in the financial market. Previous studies typically consider a firm dead once its shares are delisted from the stock exchange. Despite its negative connotation, delisting may be a strategic decision and therefore be a positive outcome for the company. We study how a firm’s innovative activity, in terms of R&D investments and number of patents, shapes its survival profile, taking into account the heterogeneous nature of delistings. Using a sample of high-tech small and medium enterprises (SMEs) going public in Europe during 1998–2003, we find that more innovative firms, both in terms of patents and R&D investments, have a higher probability to be taken over. However, while firms with a rich portfolio of patents are less likely to voluntarily delist, higher R&D investments increase a firm’s likelihood of being delisted due to compliance failure.


We extend theories of the firm to the entrepreneurial finance setting and argue that R&D-focused start-up firms will have a greater likelihood of financing themselves with equity rather than debt. We argue that mechanisms which reduce information asymmetry, including owner work experience and financier reputation, will increase the probability of funding with more debt. We also argue that start-ups that correctly align their financing mix to their R&D focus will perform better than firms that are misaligned. We study these ideas using a large nationally representative dataset on start-up firms in the United States.

Publication date
Book series
Advances in Strategic Management
Series copyright holder
Emerald Publishing Limited
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