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Entrepreneurial Human Capital, Complementary Assets, and Takeover Probability

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Gaining access to technologies, competencies, and knowledge is observed as one of the major motives for corporate mergers and acquisitions. In this paper we show that a knowledge-based firm’s probability of being a takeover target is influenced by whether relevant specific human capital aimed for in acquisitions is directly accumulated within a specific firm or is bound to its founder or manager owner. We analyze the incentive effects of different arrangements of ownership in a firm’s assets in the spirit of the Grossman-Hart-Moore incomplete contracts theory of the firm. This approach highlights the organizational significance of ownership of complementary assets. In a small theoretical model we assume that the entrepreneur’s specific human capital, as measured by the patents they own, and the physical assets of their firm are productive only when used together. Our results show that it is not worthwhile for an acquirer to purchase the alienable assets of this firm due to weakened incentives for the initial owner. Regression analysis using a hand collected dataset of all German IPOs in the period from 1997 to 2006 subsequently provides empirical support for this prediction. This paper adds to previous research in that it puts empirical evidence to the Grossman-Hart-Moore framework of incomplete contracts or property rights respectively. Secondly, we show that relevant specific human capital that is accumulated by a firm’s founder or manager owner significantly decreases that firm’s probability of being a takeover target.

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Paper provided by Universitaet Augsburg, Institute for Economics in its series Discussion Paper Series with number 307.

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Date of creation: Dec 2009
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Handle: RePEc:aug:augsbe:0307

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Keywords: ownership structure; property rights; mergers & acquisitions;

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