The effect of absentee ownership on local employment change

Frank D. Beck, Craig R. Humphrey, Glenn Firebaugh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


To determine whether absentee-owned firms destabilize local economies, we examine the relationship between absentee ownership of manufacturing companies and employment change in manufacturing for 109 Pennsylvania towns. This issue arises because some earlier studies find that corporate connections through absentee-owned firms are positively related to local employment growth, whereas other work claims that locally owned operations are more stable. We attempt to reconcile these findings by arguing that absentee ownership is destabilizing only in the case of non-conglomerate firms. Our results show that absentee ownership in fact increases the closure rate of firms, thereby negatively affecting manufacturing employment change. Yet, this relationship differs by the parent company’s organizational structure. Employment in branches of non-conglomerate firms is more detrimental than employment in branches of conglomerates - an important qualification of the argument that the “conglomeratization” of advanced industrial societies negatively affects communities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)385-407
Number of pages23
JournalSociological Focus
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2000

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Sciences(all)


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