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Conquering the American market : ABN AMRO, Rabobank and Nationale-Nederlanden working in a different business environment, 1965-2005

By G.K. Westerhuis


The dissertation highlights the expansion of Dutch financial companies in the American market during the last forty years. It aims to explain in which activities they expanded successfully and in which activities they failed. Three important Dutch companies were studied: ABN AMRO, Rabobank and Nationale-Nederlanden, and five activities were analyzed: retail, corporate and investment banking, and life and non-life insurance. The companies were studied in their institutional environment in order to understand how multinationals cope with different national business systems. To make the problem of different national business systems concrete, I used two ideal types as described in the relevant literature: liberal market economies (LME) and coordinated market economies (CME). Did Dutch companies coordinate their activities primarily via hierarchies and markets (LME) or more via networks (CME)? Did they transfer elements of the Dutch business system to their American activities or did they adapt to the American system? The first chapter discusses the expansion of retail and corporate banking, and of life and non-life insurance. Special attention is given to Dutch and American banking legislation. Chapters 2 and 3 deal with the management process after an acquisition: the shaping of the organizational structure and human resource management respectively. Based on annual reports profitability and market share are analyzed in chapter 4. Chapter 5 deals with the expansion of investment banking. The conclusion looks back on the main developments and explains the success and failures of the Dutch companies in the American market in the context of different national business systems. The study makes clear that some elements of the Dutch business system, such as its colonial past and open, international economy, favored international expansion. Moreover, the Dutch state was supportive in the development of large financial companies. The risk-avoiding attitude of the companies was seen as a positive factor as well. The study also concluded that the Dutch companies combined Dutch and American elements of the two business systems, which became in particular apparent in the organization and management of the American organization and which was the outcome of a process of trial and error. In organizing and managing investment banking activities the Dutch companies were less successful in combining the Dutch and American business system, because this sector resembled much more the characteristics of an LME. The detailed analysis revealed large differences in business system within America. There were geographic differences (for example between New York and the Midwest) and differences between activities (commercial versus investment banking).These differences partly explain why Dutch companies have been more successfully in certain activities than in others. In the 1990s ABN AMRO and ING imported more elements compatible with the LME in their organization, whereas elements of this ideal type were less visible at Rabobank. The extent of change depended on two variables: the degree of internationalization and the company’s legal structure. Dutch institutions, such as corporate governance and the financial market, have changed during the past forty years as a result of external developments (liberalization of capital markets, development of European market). The Dutch financial companies had to react to these institutional changes, but they were not passive actors. They influenced the extent and the content of change. In short, multinationals and business systems influence and change each other

Topics: Specialized histories (international relations, law), Literary theory, analysis and criticism, Culturele activiteiten, Overig maatschappelijk onderzoek
Publisher: Boom
Year: 2008
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