II, the focus is on conditions--geopolitical and national--most favorable to a
cross-national transfer, on the channels of transfer, and on the strategies of
actors involved. Part III identifies different types of mechanisms through
which the cross-national transfer process took place. Finally, Part IV points
to obstacles to the process, of a national and institutional kind. Theoretical
generalizations are proposed, at that point, on the diffraction that necessarily
comes with processes of cross-national transfer or diffusion and on what
amounts, in the end, to an institutionally embedded national adaptation, translation, or interpretation of the original model.
A number of scholars have focused on quite similar dependent variables. Labels,
though, have changed. Chandler ( 1990) used the term 'forms of capitalism', Piore
Sabel ( 1984) 'industrial divides', and Whitley ( 1992) 'business systems'.
Although the focus, in the following pages, will be on structures, it is undeniable
that national industries are also characterized by bodies of ideas, organizational and
economic ideologies, 'models of management' ( Guillén, 1994), or 'industrial
cultures' ( Dobbin, 1994).
This definition of 'governance structures' builds upon those provided by Williamson
( 1981) and Campbellet al. ( 1991).
In fact, amongst Italian manufacturing firms employing over 50 people, 1,249 were
sole proprietorships in 1951 and 1,781 in 1971. In France, this number had gone
down from 1,408 in 1954 to 901 in 1966 ( INSEE ( 1956, 1974), Istituto Centrale di
Statistica ( 1955, 1976), Statistisches Bundesamt ( 1953, 1973)).
For figures showing that the M-form spread even further in Europe in the 1970s and 1980s, see
Whittingtonet al. ( 1997).
Since over half of this same sample had already chosen diversification as a strategy
by 1950, slow adoption of the M-form in Italy could not be accounted for, as
traditional arguments would have it, by a failure to diversify (
Neither could Italian reluctance to the M-form be accounted for by peculiarities of
the Italian economic environment since, by 1970, most foreign-owned subsidiaries
in Italy (33 out of 39) had adopted the multidivisional structure.
Both in France and in West Germany, the total number of industrial units decreased
sharply from around 700,000 in 1950 to around 400,000 twenty years later. The
firms that disappeared were mostly smaller entities. In Italy, on the other hand, the
number of industrial units remained stable during that period at around 600,000.
Some very small firms (less than 10 employees) disappeared but they were
replaced, for the most part, by small or medium-sized entities (between 10 and
500). See Statistisches Bundesamt ( 1953, 1954, 1973, 1974), INSEE ( 1956, 1974), Istituto Centrale di Statistica ( 1955, 1976).
Campbell ( 1994) for a review of neo-institutional theories and for the terms
'theory of constraint' and 'theory of action'.
For a criticism along similar lines of cultural arguments, see
( 1988), pp. S69-S74.
The origins of comparative historical analysis can be traced to John Stuart Mill