Competition, Firm Financial Pressure, and Location Strategy: 3 Essays on Firm Domestic and International Expansion

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This dissertation examines the relationship between firm capabilities, including firm financial condition, and expansion strategy in a competitive environment. In Essay 1, I build a formal model of firm geographical expansion and entry timing based on Cournot competition that is driven by heterogeneity in firm, location, and competition traits. Using Monte-Carlo simulation, I identify firm best responses and Nash Equilibrium which serve as predictions for empirical inquiry in Essay 2 and Essay 3. Variation in firm traits and location traits lead to different expansion outcomes including whether firms expand at all, whether firms enter a market early or later, and which geographical location firms choose. While similar firms choose similar expansion behavior, as firms’ relative capabilities and revenue pressure differ, staggered entry becomes more appealing, resulting in differential firm profits. Additionally, expansion strategy becomes more nuanced when considering the interaction between firm, competitor, and location traits, both domestically and internationally. I focus on two key mechanisms of interest and test these empirically: revenue pressure in Essay 2, and liability of foreignness in Essay 3.

I focus on a subset of propositions that map to my empirical setting: expansion into cities by firms in the micro-mobility industry (scooter, bike, and moped share companies). In Essay 2, the empirical results for US expansion activity support model predictions that more capable firms expand before less capable firms, but that revenue pressure pushes firms to expand earlier than they would prefer. Extending the model to capture international expansion in Essay 3, I find that liability foreignness helps explain the entry timing of firms at the country level, as well as a subset of entry decisions at the city level. This final essay highlights the nuances of various measures of liability of foreignness, as well as the importance of separating out different levels of analysis (e.g., at the city and country level) when examining firm entry decisions.