According to a recent analysis of Essential
Science Indicators data from
Reuters, the work of Professor Mauro Guillen has
top 1% of scientists in the field of Economics
& Business, with 10 papers cited a total of 232
times between January 1, 1998 and October 31, 2008.
Prof. Guillen's work also appears in the top 1% in the
field of Social Sciences.
Prof. Guillen hails from The Wharton School at the
University of Pennsylvania, where he is Director of the
Lauder Institute and the Dr. Felix Zandman Professor of
In the interview below,
Prof. Guillen talks with ScienceWatch.com about
his highly cited work.
Would you tell us a bit about your educational
background and research experiences?
I did my undergraduate in political economy and management in Spain at the
University of Oviedo. Then I obtained my Ph.D. in political economy in
1991. Simultaneously, I studied at Yale for my Ph.D. in sociology, which I
finished in 1992. I have been a researcher since, focusing on international
What would you say is the main focus of your
"One of the distinctive aspects of
globalization in the last 30 years has been
the international expansion of
My research is always international in nature. I develop theory and test it
with international, cross-national, or comparative data. I am primarily
interested in how country-level institutions affect economic and business
issues, and how globalization is changing country-level institutions and
dynamics. I have explored a number of topics ranging from foreign
investment to business groups, and from the global diffusion of innovations
to entrepreneurship in different country contexts.
Your most-cited Economics & Business paper in our
database is the 2002 Administrative Sciences Quarterly
article, "Global competition, institutions, and the diffusion of
organizational practices: The international spread of ISO 9000 quality
certificates." Would you talk a little bit about this review and
perhaps speculate on why it has attracted so many citations?
This paper is the first to establish that the diffusion of innovations or
new organizational practices is driven by global forces in addition to
domestic ones. A unique aspect of the paper is that we formulate a novel
theory about the impact of the structure of relationships among countries
on the diffusion of innovations between them. We make an important
distinction between cohesion and equivalence in network effects, and find
that the two explain very different processes. I think the paper has also
attracted attention because we use data on ISO 9000 quality certification
to test our theory, which is a very popular topic.
Another of your highly cited papers is the 2000
Academy of Management Review article, "Business groups in
emerging economies: A resource-based view." Please tell our readers
about this paper, its findings, and its significance for the
Business groups in emerging economies tend to be very large and very
diversified by industry. Some of them operate in fields as diverse as
agriculture, textiles, automobiles, electronics, real estate, and finance,
for instance. Normally, competition would reduce the incentives for such
diversification and encourage firms and business groups to be more focused.
In this paper I advance a new theory of business groups which does not rely
(like previous theories) on transaction costs or on culture as
explanations. I focus the attention on asymmetries in trade and
foreign-investment policies across countries and how they provide business
groups with resources to diversify. I use data from several emerging
economies and find support for my resource-based theory, while only
sporadic support for previous theories.
Several of your other papers deal with the foreign
expansion of firms. Would you discuss this aspect of your
"I am primarily interested in how
country-level institutions affect economic
and business issues, and how globalization is
changing country-level institutions and
One of the distinctive aspects of globalization in the last 30 years has
been the international expansion of firms. I have devoted a great of
attention to trying to understand this phenomenon not only from an economic
but also from a managerial and political perspective. I have done so
examining and explaining aggregate patterns of international expansion, and
also firm-level decisions. My contribution has primarily to do with the
theory and finding that home country-level institutions and policy shape
the pattern of international expansion of firms. For instance, Korean,
Taiwanese, Argentine, or Mexican firms expanded abroad following different
templates because of fundamental differences in their home-country
institutions and policies.
One of your more recent papers is from the Strategic
Management Journal, "Risk and the strategy of foreign location
choice in regulated industries," (Garcia-Canal E and Guillen MF,
29: 1097-1115, October 2008). Please tell us a little bit about
This paper advances the novel argument that firms in infrastructure
industries prefer different kinds of governments when it comes to managing
political risk during the negotiation phase and the operational phase. In
the former, they prefer to deal with a government that is not
institutionally constrained by other branches (e.g. judiciary, legislative)
because then they can negotiate special, more advantageous conditions. In
the second phase they prefer just the opposite, i.e. constrained
governments. This creates a dilemma, because one cannot have it both ways.
We test the theory with data on the foreign investments of Spanish firms in
Latin American infrastructure industries.
What would you like the "take-away lesson" about your
research to be?
One cannot understand in either theoretical or empirical terms what
globalization is all about (as well as its effects) without taking into
consideration the impact of national-level institutions and policies on
actors, firms, and industries.
Mauro F. Guillen
Director, The Lauder Institute
Dr. Felix Zandman Professor of International Management
The Wharton School
University of Pennsylvania
Philadelphia, PA, USA
Social Sciences: Guillen MF, "Is
globalization civilizing, destructive, or feeble? A
critique of five key debates in the social science
literature," Annu. Rev. Sociol. 27: 235-60, 2001,
with 74 citations.
Economics & Business:
Guler I, Guillen MF, MacPherson JM, "Global
competition, institutions, and the diffusion of
organizational practices: the international spread of
ISO 9000 quality certificates," Admin. Sci.
Quart. 47(2): 207-32, June 2002, with 72