Corporate Europe in the US: Olivetti's acquisition of Underwood fifty years on
Federico Barbiellini Amidei () and
Business History, 2012, vol. 54, issue 2, 262-284
While Italy's catch-up in the course of the twentieth century has been nothing short of extraordinary, it has failed to produce a large number of global business players. Nonetheless, half a century ago an Italian company concluded what was at the time the largest-ever foreign takeover of a US company. The paper analyses Olivetti's acquisition of Underwood and frames it in the broader picture of the literature on the management and performance of foreign companies in the United States. We provide a historical narrative focused on three main issues: 1) Olivetti's adaptation to the American business system; 2) head office control and subsidiary autonomy; 3) the development of internal knowledge resources. The implications are relevant for business historians and management scholars in general.
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