Firms differ in their integration capability, which is the ability to absorb and manage businesses on a continuing basis. We expect integration capability heterogeneity to influence acquisition strategy by profit-seeking firms, affecting both their propensity to acquire and the types of businesses that they target. We argue that a firm' integration capability increases with its product line scope and test two hypotheses: (I) firms with greater existing product line scope are more likely to be acquirers; and (2) firms with greater product line scope are more likely to purchase product lines that they already operate. Data from the US medical sector between 1978 and 1995 support hypothesis I. We then find that all firms tended to purchase product lines that they did not previously operate, but, consistent with hypothesis 2, that firms with greater product line scope made acquisitions that had greater overlap with their existing product lines. The results are analogous with the biological observation that the most successful predators are better able to target desirable prey as well as being better able to overpower the prey they target.
- business dynamics
- integration capability