Interorganizational imitation: The impact of interlocks on corporate acquisition activity
I would like to thank my dissertation committee: Mark Fichman, Gerald Salancik, Doug Wholey, and Steve Klepper for their generous support and assistance. Thanks also to Alison Davis-Blake, Anne Miner, Craig Olson, Jim Walsh, Marshall Meyer, and three anonymous reviewers for providing helpful comments and insights. Earlier versions of this paper were awarded the 1992 Academy of Management, OMT Division, Louis R. Pondy Award for the best paper based on a dissertation, and the 1991 TIMS College on Organization, Best Dissertation Proposal Award. In this study, I examine direct evidence for the influence of interorganizational imitation on a voluntary, substantive strategic action that affects the economic core of the firm: corporate acquisitions. I argue that firm managers are exposed to the acquisition activities of other firms when they sit on those firms' boards. The acquisition activities of the firms they are tied to serve as models to be imitated. Hypotheses are developed and tested on 1981-1990 acquisition data for a sample of 327 firms. Results show that firm managers are imitating the acquisition activities of those other firms to which they are tied through directorships. Competing rival interpretations of positive evidence for imitation are examined, and the imitation interpretation is found to hold.'