DOI: 10.1002/gsj.1500 ISSN: 2042-5791

All politics starts local: Liability of stateness and subnational labor markets

Cheng Li, Klaus Meyer
  • Strategy and Management
  • Business and International Management


Research Summary

State‐controlled acquirers face a liability of stateness (LoS) because host country stakeholders consider them less legitimate and as representatives of foreign political power. We argue that due to LoS, state‐owned enterprises (SOEs) face more regulatory scrutiny in cross‐border acquisitions than comparable private‐owned enterprises (POEs). Applying a voting behavior perspective, we further posit this increased regulatory scrutiny is reduced when acquisitions occur via intermediaries, and in host communities less averse to state ownership due to local labor conditions. Using a sample of cross‐border acquisitions with acquirers from 44 economies and targets in 50 US states, we find that SOEs are 9% more likely to attract additional regulatory scrutiny than POEs. However, this likelihood decreases with indirect acquisitions and in host regions with high unemployment.

Managerial Summary

State‐owned enterprises experience challenges in their cross‐border acquisitions because people in host societies do not trust them. As a result, regulatory authorities, such as CFIUS in the United States, subject foreign SOE acquirers to greater scrutiny. However, by acquiring foreign firms through subsidiaries rather than through parent organizations, the state influence becomes less visible, resulting in less regulatory scrutiny. Moreover, local stakeholders are concerned with economic opportunities in their local area, which they prioritize over ideological concerns at time of economic crisis. Consequently, SOE acquirers face less additional scrutiny in local communities with high unemployment. Thus, SOE acquirers can work with local communities to overcome the negative perception they encounter when entering foreign markets.

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