Un-Equal Bedfellows: Gender Role-Based Difference in Multiplex Ties between Korean Business Groups



Deference within a dyad occurs when one partner acknowledges that the other is entitled to privileges. Although deference is a well-known consequence of relationships between partners of unequal status, little is known on whether deference could spill across different types of ties between the same actors. This can happen within multiplex relationships, especially when they involve firms that have both business relations and personal interactions that involve their key decision makers. We combine insights from the literatures on status and competitive positioning to examine how actors’ behaviors in a business dimension of a multiplex relationship are shaped by the deference norms in a personal dimension of the same relationship. Empirically, we demonstrate that marriages between owner-families of Korean business groups cause deferential behaviors between these families as a function of gender-based dynamics within kinship ties. The deference in the inter-personal relationships then affects business groups’ strategic behaviors, such as their market entries or exits. Thus, we shed light on how deference spillovers represent a relatively novel mechanism through which one partner can extract advantage within a multiplex relationship.