A tale of two countries: Business Networks in Argentina and Chile (1901-2010)

Resumen: Business networks govern corporate behavior, an influence that is well established by prior research. Yet little is known about how they work in emerging countries, despite the critical importance of corporate networks to international business. This book constitutes the first effort to bring analytic tools to bear on understanding the complex corporate networks in Argentina and Chile, using a long-term, comparative perspective. By investigating interlocking directorates, and the role they play in structuring economic power, as well as their impact on organizational behavior, this book explores the institutional and relational structures that mark the largest companies in both countries, over a period spanning more than a century (1901–2010).   It also presents, for the first time, 100 years of economic history compared, of two Latin American countries, viewed from the perspective of corporate networks.

In so doing, this book helps explain the causes of divergent patterns across these two countries, in terms of their corporate governance systems and economic development. Why do particular national business networks and governance structures in emerging countries (and specifically in Latin America) take specific forms? What are the key sources of variation in the corporate governance that appears across different Latin American countries? To address these unanswered questions, this book studies the influence of the relevant actors traditionally associated with emergent economies (i.e., business groups) but also goes a step further to overcome some limitations of previous research on corporate networks, namely, the omission of state-owned enterprises and multinational enterprises as key actors. Both entities have been central to the economic development of Argentina and Chile, so this book addresses the integration of these actors into business networks and governance systems and their resulting influence. To complement this extended analysis, the book also investigates the specific characteristics of the business leaders who constitute the corporate elite in different periods, as well as how they have collaborated and exercised power. The findings and original contributions of this research help reveal the influence of corporate networks in the economic and institutional development of two countries, including their impact on companies’ performance. In so doing, it describes the evolution of types of capitalism over the long run and its notable diversity in Latin America.