How Do Firm Political Connections Impact Foreign Acquisitions? The Effects of Decision Makers’ Political and Firm Embeddedness


Global Strategy Journal


Departments: Strategy & Business Policy, GREGHEC (CNRS)

Keywords: political connections, non-market strategies, foreign acquisitions, French firms, mental models

Research summary: We examine how firm political connections established through the political embeddedness of senior decision makers affect firms’ foreign acquisition strategy. We argue that such political embeddedness affects the mental models of decision makers and, in turn, influences their preferences for particular strategies. We propose that political embeddedness leads to the formation of mental models that favor foreign acquisition strategies. We further argue that the firm embeddedness of politically-embedded decision makers alters their mental models, thereby mitigating their inclination for such strategies. We find evidence consistent with our mental models explanation using a sample of foreign acquisitions made by French publicly-traded firms during the 2009-2014 period. Overall, this study contributes to a better understanding of the mechanisms through which political connections impact global strategy. Managerial summary: We investigate how firm political connections affect firms’ foreign acquisition strategies. We argue that when firms have top decision makers with close connections to the government, they will make more foreign acquisitions. We further argue that this inclination towards foreign acquisitions is primarily driven by non-executive board members, with politically-connected executives appearing to be more reluctant to engage in such strategies. We find evidence consistent with these ideas when examining foreign acquisitions made by French publicly-traded firms managed by graduates of the prestigious ENA government school, which trains many government and senior civil servants in France