Joint Ventures as a Commitment Device Against Lobbies
This paper investigates a hitherto unexplored rationale for firms to enter into joint ventures. We model risky projects with autocorrelated productivity shocks as creating an option value of investing over time so that later investments benefit from the information revealed by the realization of earlier investments. However, internal and external lobbies are likely to pressurize owners into paying out early revenues from such investments precisely when the autocorrelation of productivity implies they should be reinvesting them in the project. Joint ventures provide a commitment mechanism against lobbies, thereby enabling more efficient levels of investment. We present some case study evidence that this rationale for entering into joint ventures is especially relevant in the context of infrastructure projects in developing countries, though other contexts such as pharmaceuticals are also favorable to the phenomenon. We also find that Business Environment and Enterprises Performance survey data corroborate the model's prediction that organizations under conditions favorable to internal or external lobbying pressure are more likely than other firms to choose joint ventures as their corporate governance structure.
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