Research summary: We theoretically and empirically study the effects of legal institutions on the inclusion of arbitration provisions in international joint venture (IJV) contracts. Legal institutions offer a public trilateral forum to handle interpartner disputes. However, these institutions function differently across countries, which can impede IJV partners from resolving disputes effectively through court systems. Alternatively, partners can take advantage of private trilateral resolution mechanisms in the form of arbitration. We argue and demonstrate that differences among partners' home country legal institutions regarding the legal traditions, as well as the importance of procedures and costs imposed in these countries for enforcing contracts, increase the likelihood of choosing arbitration over litigation. We also compare results for partners' recourse to IJV boards as a private, bilateral means of addressing conflicts. Managerial summary: IJVs are powerful levers for market expansion and access to resources and capabilities. The risks of corrosive disputes caused by conflicting interests or misunderstandings among partners are nonetheless far from being negligible. Our study helps decision makers and managers increase their understanding of the options and remedies available for resolving disputes. We consider three mechanisms in particular: public courts, arbitration, and the board of directors. Findings show that considering the partners' home country legal environments but also the discrepancies between these environments is essential when it comes to giving preference to arbitration over public courts. Findings also suggest that decisions related to internal private ordering (i.e., relying on the JV board of directors) are driven by the exchange characteristics more than by institutional considerations.
- arbitration provision
- dispute resolution
- institutional and legal environment
- international joint venture
- transaction cost economics