Doctoral thesis

Foreign divestment by multinational corporations : Three essays on its drivers


  • Freiburg [Schweiz], : [éditeur non identifié], 2021

1 ressource en ligne (191 pages) ; 1 fichier pdf

Thèse: Université de Fribourg (Suisse), 2021

English Multinational corporations’ (MNCs’) internationalization behavior has been extensively examined in recent decades, with most studies focusing on foreign expansion. However, MNCs’ internationalization is rarely a linear forward-moving process; more often, it involves both cycles of expansion and cycles of backward movement, including the divestment of foreign subsidiaries and even complete withdrawals from foreign markets. A better understanding of international business thus requires the study of both expansion and divestment. The present thesis follows this premise and investigates the drivers of foreign divestment through three separate studies.
Study 1 is a meta-analytic study of the drivers of foreign subsidiary divestment. It clarifies ambiguous findings in the existing literature by integrating the results for 18 drivers from 45 studies. It identifies ten drivers that significantly affect the likelihood of foreign subsidiary divestment, while showing that the effects of the remaining eight drivers frequently investigated in the literature are inconclusive. It also shows that subsidiary-level drivers have stronger effects on divestment likelihood than those operating at the parent-firm or host-country level. Finally, this study provides evidence for the greater explanatory power of the resource-based view and transaction cost approach compared to that of organizational learning theory or institutional theory to explain foreign divestments.
Study 2 takes an embedded single case-study approach and investigates the drivers leading to all 32 market exits of the 50 largest grocery retailers in Europe between 2014 and 2018. It demonstrates that for most exits, combinations of multiple interrelated drivers at the subsidiary level, the host-country level, and the parent level have a joint influence on retailers’ decisions to exit foreign markets. Using the configurational approach, the study identifies exemplary combinations of market exit drivers that occur frequently and proposes five archetypes of such combinations.
Study 3 are longitudinal multiple case studies that explore the foreign market exit behavior of the ten largest store-based retailers in the world between 2005 and 2020. The study investigates whether the long-term exit behavior of retailers is idiosyncratic; is best explained from a corporate strategy (CS) perspective; or follows industry-wide common patterns, best explained from an industrial organization (IO) perspective. The findings suggest the CS perspective to be most appropriate to explain retailers’ heterogeneous long-term market exit behavior but show that some common patterns across the retailers’ market exit behavior require taking an IO perspective.
Finally, the present thesis concludes that there is still much room for further investigation of foreign divestment and discusses persisting research gaps and their implications for further research.
Faculté des sciences économiques et sociales et du management
  • English
  • Ressource en ligne consultée le 2022-01-10
Other material characteristics
License undefined
Open access status
Persistent URL

Document views: 63 File downloads:
  • SchmidD.pdf: 107