The evolutionary mechanisms of hybridization in the current global environments of corporate governance : potential stabilities of hybrid structures

Takei, Hideki
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Southern New Hampshire University
As stated in the dissertation, "Corporate governance is an important dimension of management. Appropriate governance practices lead companies to continuously improving prosperity by guiding them through environmental uncertainties and the risks of operations, especially operations in unfamiliar overseas environments. In this regard, effective corporate governance structures have been critical to the success of multinational enterprises (MNEs) that tend to face higher levels of uncertainty and risk than domestic corporations. In addition to the serious uncertainty and risk in international business environments, MNEs have had to deal with varying and often unfamiliar requests and values on the part of local investors and regulatory authorities. These groups frequently define their interests and the objectives of their investments on the basis of their own cultural and historical background. As financial markets have globalized, they have also been made more complex as a result of encouraging international investors to participate in several indigenous and multinational securities markets. These various requests, values and demands on the part of international investors or local regulatory authorities have often been a drag on the overseas performance of MNEs.2 While indigenous governance structures might be quite well suited to local values and regulatory demands, they are unable to deal with the requests and values of home country corporations and their investors. This provides a serious challenge to multinational corporate governance than the existing indigenous structures. In this regard, one of the latest findings is that more effective governance structures may come about through the emergence of hybrid governance. Hybrid governance is the result of a process whereby indigenous corporate governance structures are modified to accommodate international requirements, but without sacrificing deeply rooted historical and cultural values. In this regard, it is more accurate to speak of "hybridization", or a transformation of governance structure and a change in the overall governance paradigm, rather than a simple process of modification. A hybrid governance structure is, fundamentally, a new structure which while sensitive to local values, nonetheless meets a reasonable international standard of due diligence. Interestingly, some recent studies on hybrid corporate governance (Aoki, 2000) argue that the highest level of corporate performance in MNE's may come not from local governance structures, nor from overseas governance structures of the developed countries but rather from a hybridized governance system. While the superior potential performance of hybrid structures has been previously argued (Aoki, 2000), there have not been confirmatory studies of actual corporate performance to date. One reason for this is that the structure of emergent hybrid governance has not been clearly differentiated from that of more traditional concepts of corporate governance. In earlier studies, hybrid models were described as having "semistrong" governance attributes from different types of indigenous corporate and social structures (Williamson, 1996). By semi-strong, earlier authors, particularly Williamson, actually mean a system where external values are rather arbitrarily grafted onto local governance structures. In theory, this kind of structure draws upon relatively equal amounts from the overseas company's governance environment and the local governance environment. In terms of models, this kind of hybridization is relatively primitive. While these models attempt to mix local and international values, they do so in an unintegrated or additive fashion. In other words, while they may add governance provisions and requirements in relatively equal measure from both the local system and the international system, there is no attempt to integrate these two elements. In this case, the principal attributes of semistrong governance models are the result of an unstable hybrid model. The model is unstable because the process lacks any integrative function. An additional complication in the literature has been that hybrid corporate governance models have been traditionally addressed as a transitional phase of governance which is, on the whole, assumed to be following a pattern of global convergence (Bradley et al, 1998). The problem here is that convergence is assumed rather than demonstrated and this then results in a mischaracterization of the process of hybridization, and often in the definition of a model where the various elements of hybridization are inherently unstable (i.e., they are temporary, transitional mechanisms) (Williamson, 1996). One consequence of this mischaracterization is that by assuming hybridization is merely an intermediate step on the way to global convergence the hybrid model is seen as a merely temporary, intermediate process. Williamson (1996) sees hybrid structures as the "mid-point" on the path to convergence and he envisions a process where, after this mid-point, hybrid attributes start disappearing, in order to be replaced by rather unspecified "convergent" elements. Clarifying this process does not, unfortunately, lead to any better description of the process of evolution and adaptation in corporate governance structure. Where the point of governance has been most clearly articulated (Bradley et al, 1998; Logue and Seward, 1999) it turns out that the so-called "point of convergence" is simply the Anglo-American, purely contractarian system. Far from being a point of convergence, this would simply be the imposition of one local system across global markets. To date, recent historical evidence suggests that not only is such an outcome improbable (Kester, 1991; Roe, 1999; Aoki, 2000; Gilson, 2001; Licht 2002) but also that the "transaction cost proof of the universality of shareholder value is, at best, a delusion and at worst a pointless triviality (Fellman and Takei, 2003)." (Library-derived description)