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Research on corporate diversification: A synthesis


  • Vasudevan Ramanujam
  • P. Varadarajan


Diversification has emerged as a central topic of research in strategic management. Although this topic has been widely and intensively studied by scholars from other areas such as industrial organization economics, financial economics, organization theory, and marketing, a synthesis of these diverse streams of research is lacking. This paper attempts such a synthesis with a view to fostering further strategic management research in this area by taking a multi‐disciplinary perspective on diversification. A wide‐ranging search of the literature led to the development of an overarching research framework that facilitates the classification of a vast body of literature. Proceeding from the framework, a critique of the literature is performed with a particular emphasis on studies by strategic management researchers. Five key conceptual and methodological problems are identified and discussed. Suggestions are offered for future research on diversification.

Suggested Citation

  • Vasudevan Ramanujam & P. Varadarajan, 1989. "Research on corporate diversification: A synthesis," Strategic Management Journal, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 10(6), pages 523-551, November.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:stratm:v:10:y:1989:i:6:p:523-551
    DOI: 10.1002/smj.4250100603

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    1. Lin, Hsing-Er & Hsu, I-Chieh & Hsu, Audrey Wenhsin & Chung, Hsi-Mei, 2020. "Creating competitive advantages: Interactions between ambidextrous diversification strategy and contextual factors from a dynamic capability perspective," Technological Forecasting and Social Change, Elsevier, vol. 154(C).
    2. Guerras-Martín, Luis Ángel & Ronda-Pupo, Guillermo Armando & Zúñiga-Vicente, José Ángel & Benito-Osorio, Diana, 2020. "Half a century of research on corporate diversification: A new comprehensive framework," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, vol. 114(C), pages 124-141.
    3. Lex Donaldson, 2008. "Ethics Problems and Problems with Ethics: Toward a Pro-Management Theory," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 78(3), pages 299-311, March.
    4. Patty Duijm & Ilke van Beveren, 2020. "Product diversification as a performance boosting strategy? Drivers and impact of diversification strategies in the property-liability insurance industry," DNB Working Papers 677, Netherlands Central Bank, Research Department.
    5. Caren B Scheepers & Camrin Roberts Maher, 2019. "Leadership’s Thinking Process with Contextual Intelligence in Executing Diversification Strategy," Journal of Economics and Behavioral Studies, AMH International, vol. 11(1), pages 73-89.
    6. Carla D. Jones & Marianna Makri & Luis R. Gomez–Mejia, 2008. "Affiliate Directors and Perceived Risk Bearing in Publicly Traded, Family–Controlled Firms: The Case of Diversification," Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice, , vol. 32(6), pages 1007-1026, November.
    7. Markovitch, Dmitri G. & Huang, Dongling & Ye, Pengfei, 2020. "Marketing intensity and firm performance: Contrasting the insights based on actual marketing expenditure and its SG&A proxy," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, vol. 118(C), pages 223-239.
    8. Dong-Sung Cho & Dong-Hyun Lee, 1998. "A Proposed Industrial Classification System Based on Core Competences," Industry and Innovation, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 5(2), pages 197-208.
    9. John Y. Ding & Julie A. Caswell, 1995. "Changes in diversification among very large food manufacturing firms in the 1980s," Agribusiness, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 11(6), pages 553-563.
    10. Kirca, Ahmet H. & Randhawa, Praneet & Talay, M. Berk & Akdeniz, M. Billur, 2020. "The interactive effects of product and brand portfolio strategies on brand performance: Longitudinal evidence from the U.S. automotive industry," International Journal of Research in Marketing, Elsevier, vol. 37(2), pages 421-439.
    11. Donald Hatfield & Kent Murrmann, 1999. "Diversification and win rate in NLRB certification elections," Journal of Labor Research, Springer, vol. 20(4), pages 539-554, December.
    12. Villalonga, Belen, 2000. "Does Diversification Cause the “Diversification Discount”?," University of California at Los Angeles, Anderson Graduate School of Management qt40v212gm, Anderson Graduate School of Management, UCLA.
    13. Mahoney, Joseph T., 1995. "The management of resources and the resource of management," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, vol. 33(2), pages 91-101, June.
    14. Florence André-Le Pogamp & Frédéric Perdreau, 2009. "Stratégies de diversification et structure du capital," Revue Finance Contrôle Stratégie,, vol. 12(4), pages 5-38, December.
    15. Khosa,Amrinder & Ahmed,Kamran & Henry,Darren, 2019. "Ownership Structure, Related Party Transactions, and Firm Valuation," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9781108492195, December.
    16. Belmartino, Andrea & Calá, Carla Daniela, 2020. "A regional approach to the study of industrial diversity in Argentina (1996–2012)," Revista CEPAL, Naciones Unidas Comisión Económica para América Latina y el Caribe (CEPAL), April.
    17. Fleischer, Manfred, 1997. "The inefficiency trap: strategy failure in the German machine tool industry," EconStor Books, ZBW - Leibniz Information Centre for Economics, number 122877, December.

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