Abstract: The Dynamics of Organizational Imprinting: Capabilities and Acquisitions in the U.S. Banking Industry

Chris Marquis


In this paper, I explore the nature and dynamics of how the past continues to influence the present by examining how both resources at founding and historically imprinted organizational capabilities exert a persistent effect on the actions of U.S. banking firms. I study how variation in institutional, technical and economic environments in which banks are founded account for differences in their propensity to grow by acquisition in more recent times. While resources at founding provide a general legacy for firms that lead to subsequent growth, I suggest that banks founded in environments that fostered inter-unit coordination should subsequently be more likely to engage in growth strategies that require coordination such as acquisitions. Further the effects of these initial capabilities-building environments may be modified by the available resources. Controlling for contemporary conditions, results show that banks founded in states in with greater economic resources and where branching was permitted are currently more likely to acquire other firms, and that the effect of branching at founding is modified by the development of technical infrastructure, and economic conditions such as state wealth and urbanization. Contributions to understanding effects of founding periods and the intersection of ecology and strategy are discussed.