Environmental Performance and the Market for Corporate Assets
Glen Dowell and
Andrew A. King
Strategic Management Journal, 2017, vol. 38, issue 12, 2444-2464
Research summary: Scholars and policy‐makers have tended to assume that asset sales have a negative effect on stakeholders, but quantitative evidence to inform the debate has been scarce. In our research, we explored one way such sales could be beneficial: by facilitating the transfer of specialized capabilities used for environmental improvement. Employing quantitative data from a longitudinal sample of U.S. manufacturers, we find evidence consistent with the transfer of capabilities to or from acquired assets. Our results inform theories of ownership change and the conditional flow of capabilities among operations. They provide evidence as well of the existence of environmental capabilities. For policy‐makers they provide needed evidence and insight on the merits of regulations designed to limit asset sales. Managerial summary: It is often assumed that acquisitions harm environmental performance‐‐acquisition leads to greater emphasis on efficiency, while focusing on environmental performance is driven by managerial discretion. We propose instead that acquisitions might lead to improvement in environmental outcomes; the key is in knowing where to look for improvement. We studied thousands of facility‐level acquisitions and find that when a clean firm buys a facility from a dirtier firm, that facility's environmental performance improved. When a dirtier firm buys from a cleaner one, however, it is the dirtier firm's other facilities in the same industry of the target that improved. These results, along with extensions we undertook, suggest that managers and policy‐makers should view acquisitions as conduits rather than impediments in transferring environmental capabilities. Copyright © 2017 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
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