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HISTORY AND GEOGRAPHY IN THE MAKING OF CORPORATE STRATEGY AND STRUCTURE

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2026-06-02
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Abstract

I explore deep roots of corporate strategy and structure from historical and geographical perspectives. Specifically, in the first paper, I find that the ruggedness of a region’s terrain (i.e., amount of elevation difference due to mountains) and the temperateness of its climate (i.e., a moderate precipitation and temperature) are both positively related to individualism. Further, companies in more individualistic cultures may be less likely to engage in acquisitions. This paper deepens the understanding of the origins of culture from a geographic perspective, explains how regional culture affects firms, and sheds new light on how physical geography may affect firms. In the second paper, I show that the size and ratio of the Protestant population when U.S. states were admitted to the Union have reduced the number of hierarchical ranks and increased female representation in present-day firms’ top management teams. The effect has been partly channeled through legislation and laws promoting equality. In addition, historical Catholic immigration waves to different states have weakened this effect. This study contributes (1) to imprinting theory by considering imprinting dynamics and developing a regional, institutional imprinting perspective and (2) to a more nuanced understanding of institutional formation from a historical perspective and at the subnational level. In the third paper, I demonstrate that price regulation during a firm’s founding period leaves two regulatory imprints: a focus on government regulation and an accounting routine of downward earnings management. These regulatory imprints tend to persist and enduringly discourage firms’ R&D investment. This research contributes to a better understanding of how past institutions shape corporate R&D by uncovering new mechanisms—i.e., affecting firm operational focus and accounting routine. The regulatory imprinting perspective also helps explain why firms founded in regulated industries and communist countries tend to persistently invest less in R&D. Taken together, I show that a region’s physical geography shapes its culture, which then affects firms’ acquisition strategy. European immigrants established different institutions for U.S. states to reflect their cultural preferences, which in turn shape corporate leadership structure. A specific historical institutional arrangement in the United States and beyond—i.e., price regulation—persistently influences corporate R&D strategy.

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183 pages

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2022-05

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Culture; Geography; History; Imprinting; Institutions; Strategy

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Marquis, Christopher

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Garip, Filiz
Dowell, Glen W.S.
Sine, Wesley

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Management

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Ph. D., Management

Degree Level

Doctor of Philosophy

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Government Document

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dissertation or thesis

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