The relative influence of country conditions, industry structure, and business strategy on multinational corporation subsidiary performance

Petra Christmann, Diana Day, George S. Yip

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

79 Scopus citations


Two competing theories of firm performance have been proposed in the business strategy literature, the industry structure view and the resource-based view of the firm. Empirical studies have estimated the relative contribution of industry structure, corporate, and business unit effects to business unit performance. These studies, however, have been restricted to using only single-country data. Missing from this debate is an international dimension that includes the relative importance of country conditions as a determinant of firm performance. The objective of this article is to fill this void by adding country characteristics to the analysis. Using cross-country data of four large multinationals in a single industry, we estimate the relative importance of country characteristics in addition to industry structure, corporate characteristics, and subsidiary strategy as determinants of subsidiary performance by using multiple regression analysis. This analysis also will contribute to the discussion on environmental determinism versus strategic choice. Country and industry characteristics are mainly outside the control of management, whereas corporate characteristics and subsidiary strategy are under management's control. Results show that country characteristics are by far the most important determinant of subsidiary performance, followed by industry structure, subsidiary strategy, and corporate characteristics. Thus, country conditions are a very important determinant of firm performance that so far has been overlooked in previous studies. These results indicate that subsidiary performance is determined mainly by conditions outside the control of subsidiary management. In terms of competing theories, these results support the environmental determinism view more than the strategic choice view and the resource-based view of the firm more than the industry structure view. These results also have important implications for multinational corporations' selection of countries for entry and investment and for performance evaluation of subsidiary management.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)241-265
Number of pages25
JournalJournal of International Management
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1999
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Business and International Management
  • Finance
  • Strategy and Management


  • Multinational corporations
  • Performance
  • Statistical analysis
  • Subsidiaries


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