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Chapter 6: In the end: The LIFESHAPERS



The concluding chapter reviews the main evidence uncovered and summarizes which privatized firms from the UK, France, Germany, Italy and Spain in the sectors studied are Alphas and Betas.

The main argument developed is that in order to understand why a firm becomes an Alpha or a Beta, factors internal to the firm are important. This includes a firms’ competitive market position before and after privatization, the goals of managers of the firms, and the role of shareholders. Yet, while internal factors are important, the more external, political, factors are necessary and sufficient in order to explain why a firm becomes an Alpha or a Beta. This includes the impact of liberalization in the sector, the roles of states, and the actions (or inactions) of regulators that are lobbied by the firms. In other words, what businesses do is important; but politics matters more.


Based on the evidence, the chapter then develops a novel inductive theory, referred to as LIFESHAPERS. This synthesizes ideas from scholars writing on liberalization, states and regulation. Underscoring the generalizability of the theory for wider social science scholarship, the key factors in LIFESHAPERS can be analyzed when understanding any firm which has globally expanded through M&A or has been taken over. LIFESHAPERS equally offers a basis for both business leaders and political actors to gauge the political environment in which firms work and predict future developments. Taken together, the theory offers a significant step forward for social science scholars’ and practitioners’ understanding of the ‘politics’ businesses face in global markets. The chapter closes by considering how LIFESHAPERS offers fresh insights to both the larger scholarship on Varieties of Capitalism and Globalization.

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