Institutions and preferences in settings of causal complexity: foreign institutional investors and corporate restructuring practices in France

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Authors

Abstract

In this article, we illustrate how the interaction between institutional arrangements and the presence of different categories of firm stakeholders with specific preferences provides important insights to understand the conditions under which corporate restructuring practices are introduced. Institutions shape the range of actors' strategic options and mediate the translation of the preferences of firm stakeholders into corporate policies. Nonetheless, strategic choice remains possible since firm stakeholders constitute subgroups with different interests and incentives that influence how they operate in an institutional framework. In particular, we examine under what conditions UK/US-based institutional investors and equity-based compensation incentives are associated with the implementation of asset divestitures and employee layoffs in France. We uncover three key findings. First, the presence of hedge funds and equity-based pay influence the likelihood of French companies undertaking asset divestitures. Second, the impact of hedge funds on employee layoffs is contingent on the ownership structure of firms. Third, layoffs in France are driven by inferior performance – a result that contrasts with the American experience whereby employee layoffs are also used as a strategic mechanism to deal with institutional investors in good times. Our findings demonstrate the importance of the institutional constraints of (national level) employment protection and the moderating effects of ownership structure (firm level) on the strategic and employment policies of French companies.

Details

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2062-2086
JournalInternational Journal of Human Resource Management
Volume26
Issue number16
Early online date10 Nov 2014
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2015

Keywords

  • national institutional frameworks, CEO compensation, comparative corporate governance, employee layoffs, employment protection, France, institutional investors