The development of capabilities in new firms



This research explores evidence of corporate capabilities for conducting acquisition and alliance deals in young firms. We hypothesize that investors conjecture about the future based on information about a firm's capabilities. Each successive deal carries intrinsic value, creates experience, generates feedback, and yields information about the firm's underlying capabilities. We evaluate whether stock prices impute expectations that firms will capably pursue particular programs of acquisitions and alliances. The analysis covers how investor responses change across successive deals on the theory that firms with a concentrated program of deals may develop capabilities more intensively than those with programs that involve both acquisitions and alliances. The dataset covers the population of firms that went through an initial public offering (IPO) in the United States between 1988 and 1999. It contains information on all of their post-IPO acquisitions and alliances, and on how their stock prices changed in response to the announcement of each deal. The results suggest that within the first year after IPO, investors expect firms to execute particular streams of alliances and acquisitions that reflect their unique histories of demonstrated capabilities. We also find evidence that investors cannot fully anticipate deal programs. The findings support a capabilities-based view of the firm and also show that accurate inference using event-study methods may require digging deep into the early histories of firms. Copyright © 2009 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.