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Cultural distance, political risk, or governance quality? Towards a more accurate conceptualization and measurement of external uncertainty in foreign entry mode research

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  • Slangen, Arjen H.L.
  • van Tulder, Rob J.M.

Abstract

It is well accepted that multinational enterprises (MNEs) prefer equity joint ventures (JVs) over wholly owned subsidiaries (WOSs) in foreign countries where the formal and informal external environment is highly uncertain. Many entry mode studies have modeled the external uncertainty faced by MNEs in foreign countries as the cultural distance to these countries (thus focusing on the informal environment), or as their political risk level (thus focusing on the formal environment). We argue that both approaches are suboptimal because (1) cultural distance not only reflects the external uncertainty associated with WOSs but also the internal uncertainty associated with JVs, and (2) political risk covers only one aspect of the formal external environment. We contend that the governance quality of foreign countries is a better proxy for external uncertainty. The lower this quality, we hypothesize, the higher the likelihood that MNEs will choose JVs over WOSs. An analysis of 231 entries by Dutch MNEs into 48 countries offers support for this hypothesis. We also find that cultural distance has no impact on entry mode choice and that political risk has the weakest impact of all aspects of governance quality.

Suggested Citation

  • Slangen, Arjen H.L. & van Tulder, Rob J.M., 2009. "Cultural distance, political risk, or governance quality? Towards a more accurate conceptualization and measurement of external uncertainty in foreign entry mode research," International Business Review, Elsevier, vol. 18(3), pages 276-291, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:iburev:v:18:y:2009:i:3:p:276-291
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    Cited by:

    1. Tseng, Chiung-Hui & Lee, Ruby P., 2010. "Host environmental uncertainty and equity-based entry mode dilemma: The role of market linking capability," International Business Review, Elsevier, vol. 19(4), pages 407-418, August.
    2. Marlene Grande & Aurora A. C. Teixeira, 2011. "Linking entry mode choices of MNCs with countries’ corruption. A review," OBEGEF Working Papers 008, OBEGEF - Observatório de Economia e Gestão de Fraude;OBEGEF Working Papers on Fraud and Corruption.
    3. Jiménez, Alfredo, 2010. "Does political risk affect the scope of the expansion abroad? Evidence from Spanish MNEs," International Business Review, Elsevier, vol. 19(6), pages 619-633, December.
    4. von Eije, Henk & Wiegerinck, Hélène, 2010. "Shareholders' reactions to announcements of acquisitions of private firms: Do target and bidder markets make a difference?," International Business Review, Elsevier, vol. 19(4), pages 360-377, August.
    5. Shieh, Bih-Lian & Wu, Tzong-Chen, 2012. "Equity-based entry modes of the Greater Chinese Economic Area's foreign direct investments in Vietnam," International Business Review, Elsevier, vol. 21(3), pages 508-517.
    6. Bowe, Michael & Golesorkhi, Sougand & Yamin, Mo, 2014. "Explaining equity shares in international joint ventures: Combining the influence of asset characteristics, culture and institutional differences," Research in International Business and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 31(C), pages 212-233.

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