Board interlocks and imitation in corporate acquisitions: A literature review and avenues for future research

Ilaria Galavotti*

*Corresponding author

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Interlocking directorates create the conditions for social embeddedness and represent a key driver of the diffusion of strategies and practices (Okhmatovskiy & David, 2012). Among the multiple focuses of analysis, board interlocks have been regarded as a source of inter-organizational imitation in the context of corporate acquisitions (e.g. Xia et al., 2018; DeSousa Barros et al., 2021). Imitation indeed has been acknowledged as one of the primary implications of interlocking directorates (Shropshire, 2010). This study therefore offers an in-depth summary and discussion of how interlocks of business elites influence corporate acquisitions. Multiple contributions are provided. First, the paper develops a thematic analysis in which multiple research focuses are identified, namely acquisition activity and emphasis, acquisition timing in M&A waves, acquisition process, and acquisition premium. Second, it elaborates on a number of potential avenues for future research. Specifically, it identifies three main lines of inquiry related to: the imitation scope, performance at both firm- and industry-level, and potential theoretical cross-fertilizations. Moreover, methodological considerations are discussed especially in terms of operationalization choices and their implications. To the best of the author’s knowledge, this paper represents the first attempt to review the literature on the interlocks-acquisition field.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)21-30
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • Board interlocks
  • Interorganizational imitation
  • Isomorphism
  • Literature review
  • corporate acquisitions


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