Identifying liabilities of foreignness and strategies to minimize their effects: The case of labor lawsuit judgments in the United States

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227 Scopus citations

Abstract

Most foreign direct investment (FDI) theories assume that foreign subsidiaries are at a disadvantage relative to domestic firms; that is, they suffer a liability of foreignness. Following this reasoning, most FDI research has focused on advantages foreign investors must possess to overcome whatever disadvantages they face. Research directly investigating the sources of foreign subsidiary disadvantages has been notably lacking, despite the fact that understanding disadvantages could uncover ways to reduce exposure to these liabilities of foreignness and improve management of FDI. This study focuses on whether labor lawsuit judgments represent a liability for foreign subsidiaries operating in the United States (U.S.). Specifically, I tested whether 486 British, German, and Japanese subsidiaries operating in the U.S. had more labor lawsuits brought to judgment than a matched sample of U.S.-owned firms. Results indicate that foreign subsidiaries faced significantly more labor lawsuit judgments in both federal and state jurisdictions. I also investigated several variables hypothesized to be associated with a reduction in labor lawsuit judgments facing foreign subsidiaries. Foreign subsidiaries who used American top officers or whose parent firms had more U.S. operations faced fewer lawsuits, while foreign subsidiaries using human resource professionals actually faced more labor lawsuit judgments. Implications of these findings and avenues for future research are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)229-244
Number of pages16
JournalStrategic Management Journal
Volume23
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 1 2002

Keywords

  • Foreign subsidiary management
  • Host country adaptation
  • Labor lawsuit judgments
  • Legal environment
  • Liability of foreignness

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business and International Management
  • Strategy and Management

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