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European acquisitions in the United States: re-examining Olivetti-Underwood fifty years later

Author

Listed:
  • Federico Barbiellini Amidei

    () (Bank of Italy, Structural Economic Analysis Department)

  • Andrea Goldstein

    () (OECD)

  • Marcella Spadoni

    () (Universit� di Torino)

Abstract

While Italy's catch-up in the course of the 20th century has been nothing short of extraordinary, it has failed to produce a large number of global business players. Nonetheless, half a century ago an Italian company concluded what was at the time the largest-ever foreign takeover of a US company. The paper analyzes the Olivetti's acquisition of Underwood and frames it in the broader picture of the literature on the management and performance of foreign companies in the United States. We provide a historical narrative focused on three main issues: 1) head office control and subsidiary autonomy; 2) Olivetti's adaptation to the American business system; 3) the development of internal knowledge resources within the subsidiary. Lessons and implications are relevant for business historians and management scholars in general.

Suggested Citation

  • Federico Barbiellini Amidei & Andrea Goldstein & Marcella Spadoni, 2010. "European acquisitions in the United States: re-examining Olivetti-Underwood fifty years later," Quaderni di storia economica (Economic History Working Papers) 2, Bank of Italy, Economic Research and International Relations Area.
  • Handle: RePEc:bdi:workqs:qse_2
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    File URL: http://www.bancaditalia.it/pubblicazioni/quaderni-storia/2010-0002/Quaderno_storia_economica_1.pdf
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    Cited by:

    1. Federico Barbiellini Amidei & Andrea Goldstein, 2012. "Corporate Europe in the US: Olivetti's acquisition of Underwood fifty years on," Business History, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 54(2), pages 262-284, June.
    2. Federico Barbiellini Amidei & John Cantwell & Anna Spadavecchia, 2011. "Innovation and Foreign Technology in Italy,1861-2011," Quaderni di storia economica (Economic History Working Papers) 07, Bank of Italy, Economic Research and International Relations Area.
    3. Giuseppe Berta & Fabrizio Onida, 2011. "Old and new Italian multinational firms," Quaderni di storia economica (Economic History Working Papers) 15, Bank of Italy, Economic Research and International Relations Area.
    4. repec:bdi:workqs:qse_07 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Cristiano Antonelli & Federico Barbiellini Amidei, 2011. "The Dynamics of Knowledge Externalities," Books, Edward Elgar Publishing, number 13292.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    FDI; acquisition; control; adaptation; knowledge resources; Olivetti; Underwood;

    JEL classification:

    • L11 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Production, Pricing, and Market Structure; Size Distribution of Firms
    • M4 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting; Personnel Economics - - Accounting
    • N60 - Economic History - - Manufacturing and Construction - - - General, International, or Comparative
    • N80 - Economic History - - Micro-Business History - - - General, International, or Comparative
    • F23 - International Economics - - International Factor Movements and International Business - - - Multinational Firms; International Business

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