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Are Latin American business groups different? An exploratory international political economy perspective

Carney, Michael, Estrin, Saul ORCID: 0000-0002-3447-8593, Liang, Zhixiang and Shapiro, Daniel (2021) Are Latin American business groups different? An exploratory international political economy perspective. Multinational Business Review. ISSN 1525-383X

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Identification Number: 10.1108/MBR-07-2021-0089

Abstract

Purpose: This study aims to advance an international political economy (IPE) perspective that geo-political events can have long-lasting imprint effects on countries and their firms. The study also aims to explore the idea that shared political history and geography combine to create specific structural conditions that shape the international competitiveness of all firms in a region. In particular, the authors consider whether the Monroe Doctrine of 1823, which asserted American influence in the Western Hemisphere, contributed to the creation of institutional structures across Latin America (LA) affecting the strategies of all firms to this day. The authors also illustrate the IPE perspective using the example of the contemporary international competitiveness of LA business groups. Design/methodology/approach: The authors illustrate the IPE perspective using the example of the contemporary international competitiveness of LA business groups. The exploratory framework of this study leads to a proposition about the export performance of Latin American business group affiliates. The authors use firm-level performance data for 32,000 firms across emerging economies to explore the proposition empirically while controlling for alternative explanations. To do this, the authors draw on the World Bank Economic Surveys. Findings: The authors derive a proposition that argues the Monroe Doctrine has had a long-run imprint effect on economic policymaking in LA, resulting in a common, persistent and negative impact on the international competitiveness of firms. The authors find strong and consistent evidence that in terms of export performance, all Latin American firms export less and group affiliates do not outperform independent firms, This finding contrasts with the results for all the other emerging market regions around the world. Research limitations/implications: The main contribution of this study has been to suggest the potential importance of shared regional geopolitical history and geography in explaining firm-level outcomes. However, this study is preliminary and introductory, although the authors seek to control for alternative country-specific explanations of the results. The analysis considers the effects of one particular IPE phenomenon, the Monroe Doctrine, in one particular location: LA. Future work should seek to contrast LA with other geopolitical security and alternative IPE structures. They might also address the time dimension from a historical perspective: is imprinting in LA driven by the length of the Monroe Doctrine arrangements? Practical implications: The most important managerial learning point concerns the relevance of geography and political economy factors for multinational enterprises strategy formation. There is widespread understanding that context is an important determinant of subsidiaries’ performance, and that strategies need to be constructed to take account of country-specific characteristics, most importantly, in emerging economies and institutional arrangements. This paper proposes that managers also need to take account of IPE structures, including security arrangements, and to consider the resulting regional as well as national context. Social implications: The analysis suggests that not only the performance of firms, including emblematic firms, but also the socially beneficial spillovers that might be generated from them, are contingent on the regional as well as national characteristics. Thus, business groups in most emerging economies are found to yield better performance and to provide higher levels of social impact, including concerning ESG goals. However, the findings of this study suggest that the former is not true for LA, which, the authors argue, is a consequence of imprinting as a result of the Monroe Doctrine. Further work is needed to establish whether the latter effect is also not true, but if that is the case, then regionally specific policies may be required to address the resulting corporate social shortfalls. Originality/value: The core idea is that geo-political events can have long-lasting imprint effects on countries and their firms: that shared political history and geography create specific structural conditions that shape the international competitiveness of all firms in a region. The authors explore this concept with reference to the Monroe Doctrine, asking whether its assertion of US influence across the Americas contributed to the creation of institutional structures across LA affecting the strategies of all firms to this day.

Item Type: Article
Official URL: https://www.emerald.com/insight/publication/issn/1...
Additional Information: © 2021 Emerald Publishing Limited
Divisions: Management
Subjects: E History America > E151 United States (General)
F History United States, Canada, Latin America > F1201 Latin America (General)
H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor
Date Deposited: 27 Aug 2021 14:27
Last Modified: 20 Oct 2021 03:01
URI: http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/id/eprint/111821

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