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Keywords:

  • agency theory;
  • contingency theory;
  • diversification strategy;
  • debt financing;
  • Asian financial crisis;
  • environment

Abstract

We use agency theory to predict the influence of related and unrelated product diversification on a firm's level of debt financing. Further, we argue that the link between diversification and capital structure is moderated by the environment in which firms operate. Using SAS PROC MIXED, we fit a mixed-effects model to our unique six-year longitudinal dataset (1995–2000) of 245 publicly listed Singapore firms. Our data spans the period of the Asian Financial Crisis (1997–1998). We find that firms pursuing unrelated product diversification take on less debt financing in stable environments, but more debt financing in dynamic environments. Using longitudinal structural equation modeling, we find a reciprocal relationship between a firm's product diversification strategy and its debt financing level. Copyright © 2009 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.