The Choice Between Joint Ventures and Acquisitions: Insights from Signaling Theory
This paper extends information economics in corporate strategy and organizational governance research by using signaling theory to explain firms’ market entry modes. We exploit features of the IPO context to investigate how signals on newly-public firms shape other companies’ governance choices to form joint ventures with them versus acquire them. We also develop theoretical arguments on how the value of these signals will vary across exchange partners. The results reveal that companies are more apt to acquire versus partner with IPO firms taken public by reputable investment banks, compared to IPO firms associated with less prominent underwriters. Venture capitalist backing also appears to be a valuable signal for prospective acquirers, particularly when the acquirer and target reside in different industries and possess dissimilar knowledge bases. We also present evidence that signals affect the target selection process and the emergence of market segmentation for joint venture partners and acquisition candidates.