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How Chinese companies deal with a legitimacy imbalance when acquiring firms from developed economies

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  • Zhang, Hongjuan
  • Young, Michael N.
  • Tan, Justin
  • Sun, Weizheng

Abstract

Chinese companies are increasingly pursuing acquisitions from developed economies (DE) with varying degrees of success. Because of their late-comer and emerging-economy (EE) status, Chinese firms are often perceived as having less legitimacy than the firms they are acquiring. In this study, we examine how Chinese companies’ deal with this legitimacy imbalance by investigating five cases where Chinese firms acquired firms from more developed economies. We find that there is a difference in internal and external legitimacy vis a vis internal and external stakeholders, and that their relative importance changes over the course of the merger process. External legitimacy is more important in the pre- and during- merger stages, while internal legitimacy plays a more important role in the post- merger stage. In addition, we find that during the three stages of the merger process, Chinese MNEs utilize various strategies in an attempt to address the legitimacy imbalance when entering a developed economy, such as relationship building, cooperation with co-investors, allowing the acquired company to operate independently in the first few years, and operational commitment. We discuss the implications of these findings for researchers and practitioners and suggest future research directions.

Suggested Citation

  • Zhang, Hongjuan & Young, Michael N. & Tan, Justin & Sun, Weizheng, 2018. "How Chinese companies deal with a legitimacy imbalance when acquiring firms from developed economies," Journal of World Business, Elsevier, vol. 53(5), pages 752-767.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:worbus:v:53:y:2018:i:5:p:752-767
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jwb.2018.05.004
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    1. Jiatao Li & Maria Tereza Leme Fleury, 2020. "Overcoming the liability of outsidership for emerging market MNEs: A capability-building perspective," Journal of International Business Studies, Palgrave Macmillan;Academy of International Business, vol. 51(1), pages 23-37, February.
    2. Vittoria G. Scalera & Debmalya Mukherjee & Lucia Piscitello, 2020. "Ownership strategies in knowledge-intensive cross-border acquisitions: Comparing Chinese and Indian MNEs," Asia Pacific Journal of Management, Springer, vol. 37(1), pages 155-185, March.
    3. Baoliang Hu & Tao Zhang & Shuai Yan, 2020. "How Corporate Social Responsibility Influences Business Model Innovation: The Mediating Role of Organizational Legitimacy," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 12(7), pages 1-18, March.
    4. Ai, Qi & Tan, Hui, 2020. "Uncovering neglected success factors in post-acquisition reverse capability transfer: Evidence from Chinese multinational corporations in Europe," Journal of World Business, Elsevier, vol. 55(3).
    5. Victor Ming Tak Ng & Emily Guohua Huang & Michael N. Young, 2019. "Should I stay or should I go? understanding employees’ decisions to leave after mergers in Hong Kong’s banking industry," Asia Pacific Journal of Management, Springer, vol. 36(4), pages 1023-1051, December.

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