Portfolio Configuration and Foreign Entry Decisions: A Juxtaposition of Real Options and Risk Diversification Theories

René Belderbos, Tony W. Tong, Shubin Wu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

Research Summary Research on foreign market entry has rarely considered that multinational firms' new entries may be affected by the configuration of their existing affiliates. We argue that in making entry decisions, firms take into account how an entry into a new location helps increase the operational flexibility of their affiliate portfolios due to options to switch operations across affiliates in case of diverging labor cost developments across host countries. We juxtapose this real options-based explanation with a risk diversification explanation. Analysis of Japanese multinational firms' foreign entry decisions suggests that the two explanations are complementary. We also establish portfolio-level boundary conditions to the influence of operational flexibility considerations on entry, in the form of product diversification and the nature of dispersion of labor cost levels.

Managerial Summary When deciding on whether to enter a foreign market, managers of a multinational firm are intuitively aware that they need to consider how the economic environment of the target host country is related to the environments of the existing countries in which the firm operates. The less the environments are correlated with each other, whether in terms of input cost or market demand conditions, the greater the chance that the firm may capture cost savings and reduce sales volatility globally. These benefits arise from a switching option to shift operations flexibly across countries and from an ability to reduce risk by holding a portfolio of diversified global investments. Our findings support both sets of considerations, suggesting that companies do give due attention to correlations in labor cost and market demand between the target host country to enter and the existing host countries.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1191-1209
Number of pages19
JournalStrategic Management Journal
Volume41
Issue number7
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2020

Keywords

  • flexibility
  • market entry
  • multinational firm
  • portfolio
  • real options
  • risk diversification
  • DIRECT-INVESTMENT
  • JOINT VENTURES
  • EXCHANGE-RATES
  • DOWNSIDE RISK
  • FLEXIBILITY
  • STRATEGIES
  • MULTINATIONALITY
  • FIRM
  • RELATEDNESS
  • EXPANSION

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