Board interlocks and imitation in corporate acquisitions: A literature review and avenues for future research

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Interlocking directorates create the conditions for social embeddedness and represent a key driver of the diffusion of strategies and practices (Okhmatovskiy & David, 2012). Among the multiple focuses of analysis, board interlocks have been regarded as a source of inter-organizational imitation in the context of corporate acquisitions (Xia, Ma, Tong, & Li, 2018; de Sousa Barros, Cárdenas, & Mendes-Da-Silva, 2021). Imitation indeed has been acknowledged as one of the primary implications of interlocking directorates (Shropshire, 2010). This study, therefore, offers an in-depth summary and discussion of how interlocks of business elites influence corporate acquisitions. Multiple contributions are provided. First, the paper develops a thematic analysis in which multiple research focuses are identified, namely acquisition activity and emphasis, acquisition timing in mergers and acquisitions (M&A) waves, acquisition process, and acquisition premium. Second, it elaborates on a number of potential avenues for future research. Specifically, it identifies three main lines of inquiry related to the imitation scope, performance at both firm- and industry-level, and potential theoretical cross-fertilizations. Moreover, methodological considerations are discussed especially in terms of operationalization choices and their implications. To the best of the author’s knowledge, this paper represents the first attempt to review the literature on the interlocks-acquisition field.

Keywords: Board Interlocks, Corporate Acquisitions, Isomorphism, Inter-Organizational Imitation, Literature Review

Authors’ individual contributions: The Author is responsible for all the contributions to the paper according to CRediT (Contributor Roles Taxonomy) standards.

Declaration of conflicting interests: The Author declares that there is no conflict of interest.

JEL Classification: G34

Received: 26.07.2021
Accepted: 04.11.2021
Published online: 09.11.2021

How to cite this paper: Galavotti, I. (2021). Board interlocks and imitation in corporate acquisitions: A literature review and avenues for future research. Corporate Board: Role, Duties and Composition, 17(3), 21–30.