Article | Academy of Management Journal | December 2010

Acquisitions as Exaptation: The Legacy of Founding Institutions in the U.S. Commercial Banking Industry

by Christopher Marquis and Zhi Huang

Abstract

This study focuses on the imprinting of institutional environments, particularly how founding institutions impact intra-organizational capabilities and how such imprints may have different external manifestations in subsequent historical eras. We introduce the concept of exaptation to organizational theory, identifying an important process whereby the historical origin of a capability differs from its current usefulness. Three founding conditions-branching policy, modernization, and political culture-influenced banks' development of capabilities to manage dispersed branches, and these capabilities subsequently led to variation in banks' propensity to engage in acquisitions. Results highlight that founding institutions have a persistent, and sometimes unexpected, impact on organizations' strategies.

Keywords: Mergers and Acquisitions; Commercial Banking; Organizations; Theory; Policy; Government and Politics; Management Practices and Processes; Strategy; Competency and Skills; United States;

Citation:

Marquis, Christopher, and Zhi Huang. "Acquisitions as Exaptation: The Legacy of Founding Institutions in the U.S. Commercial Banking Industry." Academy of Management Journal 53, no. 6 (December 2010): 1441–1473.