Research Interests: corporate strategy, diversification, divestitures, firm scope, spinoffs, corporate governance, mergers & acquisitions
Emilie R. Feldman is an Associate Professor of Management (with tenure) at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. She graduated magna cum laude from Harvard College, where she studied Economics and French Literature, and she received her MBA and DBA in Strategy from the Harvard Business School. Her dissertation won the Wyss Award for Excellence in Doctoral Research at the Harvard Business School and was a finalist for the Wiley-Blackwell Outstanding Dissertation Award from the Academy of Management.
Emilie’s research focuses on corporate strategy and governance, with particular interests in the internal functioning of multi-business firms and the role that divestitures, spinoffs, and mergers and acquisitions play in corporate reconfiguration. Her research has been published in top academic journals, including the Strategic Management Journal, Strategy Science, Organization Science, and the Academy of Management Journal. She has received numerous scholarly awards, including the Emerging Scholar Award and the Best Conference Paper Award from the Strategic Management Society as well as two Distinguished Paper Awards from the Academy of Management. Additionally, her research has been featured extensively in popular press outlets such as the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, the Washington Post, the New Yorker, and Fortune. She was named one of the 40 Best Business School Professors Under the Age of 40 by Poets & Quants in 2019.
Emilie currently serves as an Associate Editor of the Strategic Management Journal, and she is on the Editorial Boards of Organization Science and the Academy of Management Journal. She is the Chair of the Competitive Strategy Interest Group in the Strategic Management Society.
Emilie teaches courses on mergers and acquisitions, divestitures, corporate strategy, and corporate governance in the undergraduate, MBA, law, and executive programs at Wharton and Penn. She received the Undergraduate Excellence in Teaching Award in 2017. She has also consulted and served as a speaker to numerous practitioner audiences.
Abstract: This paper investigates the corporate parenting advantage, the extent to which corporate parents improve the performance of their subsidiaries. Despite the importance of this concept for corporate strategy, researchers have yet to quantify it empirically. I measure the corporate parenting advantage by comparing the performance of utilities that were legally classified into one of two types of holding companies: regulated holding companies, which faced limits on their ability to parent, and exempt holding companies, which did not. I find that observationally similar utilities that were owned by exempt holding companies outperform utilities that were owned by regulated holding companies, and that this performance differential attenuates once the legal restrictions on parenting were lifted. These results provide the first large‐scale empirical evidence of the corporate parenting advantage.
Abstract: We conceptualize divestitures as a costly alternative to the internal resolution of conflicts among stakeholders, albeit one that avoids the more costly liquidation of the firm. In firms that have lower stakeholder orientation (defined as the extent to which management focuses attention on and integrates the interests of multiple stakeholders in its decision-making), divestitures will be less costly than the internal resolution of stakeholder conflicts, while the opposite will be true in firms that have higher stakeholder orientation. Consistent with this argument, we document a negative relationship between stakeholder orientation and divestiture activity, using a unique dateset of 909 U.S.-based, publicly-listed firms from 2002 to 2015. This negative relationship is more pronounced for selloffs than for spinoffs, for selloffs of businesses that are unrelated to or located far from the divesting firm, and for selloffs to acquirers that are not alliance partners of divesting firms. The core contribution of this paper is to treat different types of divestitures as increasingly costly responses to conflicts among stakeholders, thereby populating the theoretical middle ground between negotiated adaptations of firms’ governance structures and total firm failure. In so doing, this paper contributes to research at the intersection of stakeholder theory and corporate strategy.
Abstract: This essay reflects on the development of corporate strategy as a field of research, seeking to accomplish three main objectives. First, I position corporate strategy within the broader field of strategy research. I argue that because corporate strategy addresses the conceptually distinct question of how managers set and oversee the scope of their firms, scholars in this domain require a unique organizing framework for analyzing it. Second, I offer such a framework, which disaggregates the different topics and phenomena that corporate strategy scholars study into three categories: intra-organizational, inter-organizational, and extra-organizational. Third, I use this framework to lay out an agenda for future research in corporate strategy, as well as some ideas for linking research more closely to practice and policy-making. Given the significance of corporate strategy from academic, practical, and regulatory standpoints, my hope is that this essay will chart a productive course forward for scholars, practitioners, and policy-makers alike.
Rui de Figueiredo, Emilie Feldman, Evan Rawley (2019), The Costs of Refocusing: Evidence from Hedge Fund Closures during the Financial Crisis, Strategic Management Journal, 40 (8), pp. 1268-1290.
Abstract: This paper investigates the costs of corporate scope reduction (“refocusing”). Using data on hedge fund firms that were quasi-exogenously driven to close funds during the 2007-2009 financial crisis, we find evidence that refocusing imposes meaningful economic costs on firms. To better understand the mechanisms behind this result, we disaggregate refocusing costs along two dimensions: the degree of relatedness between the business that was closed and its sister divisions, and the duration of time over which the costs persist. The results suggest that refocusing imposes meaningful, yet transitory, adjustment costs on firms, and destroys synergies when related businesses are closed, creating more persistent costs. Accordingly, our work contributes to the corporate strategy literature by characterizing and evaluating the costs of refocusing.
Xiaolu Lisa Tang and Emilie Feldman (Working), The Strategic Complementarity between M&A and R&D.
Emilie Feldman, Raffi Amit, Belén Villalonga (2019), Family Firms and the Stock Market Performance of Acquisitions and Divestitures, Strategic Management Journal, 40 (5), pp. 757-780.
Abstract: This paper explores the stock market performance of acquisitions and divestitures where both, one, or neither of the companies in the transaction are family firms. We find that acquirer shareholder returns are highest when family firms buy businesses from non-family firm divesters, especially when family CEO acquirers buy businesses from non-family CEO divesters. Additionally, divester shareholder returns are highest when family firms sell businesses to non-family firm acquirers, especially when family CEO divesters sell businesses to non-family CEO acquirers. These findings reveal that it is important to consider the characteristics of both the acquiring and divesting firms when analyzing acquisition and divestiture performance, and that the expected gains to family firm acquisitions and divestitures are driven by transactions in which the counterparties are non-family firms.
John C. Eklund and Emilie Feldman (Working), Understanding the Relationship between Divestitures and Invention: The Moderating Role of Organization Design.
Abstract: This paper analyzes how pay inequality influences divestiture decisions. Using detailed data on division manager compensation and divestiture activity, this study documents that firms are more likely to divest divisions when pay inequality among division managers is higher. To address potential bias in the measurement of pay inequality, we construct a “synthetic” measure that varies with regional and industry pay shocks that differentially affect division managers within firms. Post hoc analyses reveal that social comparison appears to explain, at least partially, the relationship between unequal pay and divestiture. These findings support the notion that pay inequality can be an important predictor of firm boundaries. More generally, they suggest that unequal pay may have significant strategic consequences as firms increasingly adopt performance-based compensation to motivate employees.
Siwen Chen and Emilie Feldman (2018), Activist-Impelled Divestitures and Shareholder Value, Strategic Management Journal, 39 (10), pp. 2726-2744.
Abstract: This study analyzes how the divestitures that are impelled by activist investors in their campaigns against public corporations affect shareholder value. Using hand-collected data on the activist campaigns that were launched against and the divestitures that were undertaken by Fortune 500 companies between 2007 and 2015, we find that activist-impelled divestitures are more positively associated with immediate and longer-term measures of shareholder value than comparable manager-led divestitures. These performance differences persist for nearly two years after the completion of these deals. Our results empirically test the idea that firms with agency problems unlock shareholder value when they divest, and support the notion that activist investors fulfill an important external governance function. Our work also opens new research opportunities and offers practical implications as well.
Emilie Feldman and Arkadiy V. Sakhartov (Working), The Strategic Choice between Resource Redeployment and Divestiture.
This course explores the role of mergers and acquisitions and alternative methods of corporate development in advancing the strategies of operating business. Emphasis is on the way companies use acquisitions to alter business mixes; seize opportunities in new products, technologies and markets; enhance competitive positioning; adjust to changing economics, and promote value-creating growth. Although the course will emphasize strategic acquisitions, it also will explore leveraged buy-outs and hostile financial acquisitions as well as their influence on corporate buyers. Please note that you must fulfill the prerequisites in order to enroll in this class.
This course explores the role of mergers and acquisitions and alternative methods of corporate development in advancing the strategies of operating business. Emphasis is on the way companies use acquisitions to alter business mixes; seize opportunities in new products, technologies and markets; enhance competitive positioning; adjust to changing economics, and promote value-creating growth. Although the course will emphasize strategic acquisitions, it also will explore leveraged buy-outs and hostile financial acquisitions as well as their influence on corporate buyers. Please note that you must fulfil the prerequisites in order to enroll in this class.
New research from Wharton's Emilie Feldman shows that when it comes to divestitures, activists push for changes that most often create shareholder value.Knowledge @ Wharton - 2019/02/25