Rice U. study: Business groups, capital market participation have complementary effects for Indian companies

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July 16, 2014

David Ruth

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Jeff Falk

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Rice U. study: Business groups, capital market participation have complementary effects for Indian companies

HOUSTON – (July 16, 2014) – Being a part of a business group and participating in capital markets can have a significant positive impact on an Indian company’s performance in the stock market, according to a new study on Indian entrepreneurship by emerging-economy experts at Rice University, the Indian School of Business in Hyderabad, India, and the graduate business school INSEAD Singapore.

Image credit: thinkstockphotos.com/Rice University

The findings contradict prior research that suggests business groups in developing economies act mainly as substitutes to poorly developed economic institutions in these countries. Business (or corporate) groups are entities that control and coordinate two or more distinct legal companies through commonly held ownership stakes, often complemented by social and familial ties. Business groups are ubiquitous in emerging markets and even in some developed economies.

The paper will be published in Strategic Management Journal.

The authors argue that although business groups may have initially emerged as alternatives to well-developed economic institutions, they are not necessarily substitutes for them.

“While the absence of well-developed capital markets may indeed have stimulated the emergence of business groups, we propose that business group affiliation and the scrutiny that maturing capital markets impose on firms that participate actively in them nevertheless can play a complementary role in influencing a firm’s performance,” said

Prashant Kale, one of the co-authors of the study and an associate professor of strategic management at Rice’s Jones Graduate School of Business.

The authors find support for their predictions in a novel longitudinal data set of 10,453 business-group-affiliated and nonbusiness-group-affiliated Indian companies, comprising both listed and unlisted companies, during India’s postliberalization period of 1994-2009.

“Business groups in emerging economies like India have been widely criticized as entities that suffer from a variety of agency issues,” Kale said. “Family owners are seen to run business-group-affiliated companies for their own benefits to the detriment of other shareholders, and they are accused of tunneling capital for personal gain and of subverting proper corporate governance practices. This is possibly due to minimal oversight of market scrutiny and control.

“However, we show that a defining feature of business groups — the listing of some of their affiliates on maturing capital markets — may in fact help to mitigate some of these concerns. In addition, as capital markets and other institutions develop further, this effect may strengthen, allowing business groups to survive as an enduring — rather than an endangered — species.”

The authors acknowledge that they tested and found support for their theoretical arguments only in the context of the Indian environment. “It would be useful to replicate this analysis for business groups in other settings and emerging economies too to establish the generalizability and external validity of our findings,” Kale said.

For a copy of the study, “Business Groups in Developing Capital Markets: Toward a Complementarity Perspective,” e-mail jfalk@rice.edu.

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Related materials:

Kale bio: http://business.rice.edu/Prashant_Kale.

Located on a 300-acre forested campus in Houston, Rice University is consistently ranked among the nation’s top 20 universities by U.S. News & World Report. Rice has highly respected schools of Architecture, Business, Continuing Studies, Engineering, Humanities, Music, Natural Sciences and Social Sciences and is home to the Baker Institute for Public Policy. With 3,920 undergraduates and 2,567 graduate students, Rice’s undergraduate student-to-faculty ratio is just over 6-to-1. Its residential college system builds close-knit communities and lifelong friendships, just one reason why Rice has been ranked No. 1 for best quality of life multiple times by the Princeton Review and No. 2 for “best value” among private universities by Kiplinger’s Personal Finance. To read “What they’re saying about Rice,” go here.

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