Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


This study examines the relationship between the ownership structure of international joint ventures (IJVs) and their performance. This under-researched relationship was examined using a JV ownership structure typology newly developed in this study. Four distinct JV ownership structures were identified based on both partner nationality and affiliation: Intrafirm JVs--those JVs formed between affiliated Japanese firms; Cross-national DJVs--those JVs formed between unaffiliated Japanese firms; Traditional IJVs-those JVs formed between Japanese and local firms; and Trinational IJVs--those JVs formed between Japanese and third-country based firms. Two primary hypotheses were tested: (1) a JV ownership structure is chosen primarily on the basis of bilateral resource-access needs among partner firms; and (2) each of the JV ownership structures has distinct performance implications. The conceptual model was guided by both the resource-based theory of the firm and transaction cost theory. Drawing on Richardson (1972), the conceptual model postulates that JV performance is determined primarily by the level of resource-complementarity between JV partners and the management complexity embedded in the JV ownership structure. The empirical research was based on a sample of 1,688 manufacturing equity IJVs that involved one or more Japanese MNEs in East and Southeast Asia, collected from the Toyo Keizai database. In a second study, detailed interviews were conducted with managers to determine whether the findings were supported, as well as to explain why a particular JV ownership structure was chosen over the others.;The study found that the number of Traditional IJVs represents only about 70% of the sample; the balance involved non-"traditional" forms. This implies that some previous studies may have lacked both theoretical and empirical rigour, as they have failed to recognize the fact that many IJVs were not the commonly assumed type. The JV ownership-structure typology developed herein revealed significant differences in JV managers' subjective assessment of JV financial performance and survival likelihood. The evidence suggested that: (1) financial performance was highest in Traditional IJVs, followed by Intrafirm JVs and Cross-national DJVs, and lowest in Trinational IJVs; and (2) the termination rate was highest in Traditional IJVs, followed by Trinational IJVs and Intrafirm JVs, and lowest in Cross-national DJVs. This order was unchanged irrespective of JV age, the years of parent firms' local experience, and local government restrictions. The field study identified three distinct parent firm strategies which, in conjunction with host government's restrictions, may influence the choice of JV ownership structure. The study provided several implications. First, JVs are not homogenous structural forms in between market and hierarchy, but take various forms of distinct ownership structure. Second, an effective JV formation requires careful selection of the type of ownership structure and of the JV partner. Finally, a JV is not merely a reactive response to local restrictions, but can be a proactive option which corresponds to parent firms' strategic needs.



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