Why embrace a double-edged sword? A behavioral theory of board political capital building

Research output: Journal Publications and Reviews (RGC: 21, 22, 62)21_Publication in refereed journalpeer-review

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Original languageEnglish
Journal / PublicationStrategic Organization
Publication statusOnline published - 16 Oct 2022



Firm political connections are widely recognized to have both positive and negative implications, but why do firms build political connections in the first place? Distinct from prior research that typically views firm political connections as capital stock, we focus on board political capital building-selecting new directors with political backgrounds-as a strategic decision. Drawing on the behavioral theory of the firm, we examine how board political capital building is driven by performance shortfalls based on the logic of problemistic search-seeking the potential benefits of political connections while undertaking the potential downsides. Using director selection data on Chinese listed firms, we find that firms with higher performance shortfalls are more inclined to select new independent directors with political backgrounds. We further demonstrate that it is more feasible for firms with performance shortfalls to build lower-level board political capital but infeasible for them to build upper-level political capital.

Research Area(s)

  • behavioral theory of the firm, firm political connections, new director selection, problemistic search, PERFORMANCE FEEDBACK, FIRM PERFORMANCE, RISK-TAKING, DIRECTORS, CONNECTIONS, EMBEDDEDNESS, ASPIRATIONS, GOVERNMENT, EXPANSION, DETERMINANTS

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