Regionalization Strategies of European Union Electric Utilities
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As part of the debate about globalization and regionalization, this paper adds a perspective that has so far remained underexposed, that of (formerly state-owned) firms in (previously) regulated industries, in order to better understand the (changing) role of the home country/region in internationalization processes in the context of regional market liberalization. We explore the global/regional orientations of the seven major European Union electric utilities from five different home countries, which are active in both fossil-fuel and renewable energy generation. Using a multiple case study design, we collected internationalization/regionalization data from firms' annual reports for the years 2000, 2005 and 2010, supplemented with an analysis of secondary sources. Firms show a clear pattern of increasing internationalization away from the home-country market, coupled with a home-region orientation for traditional generation activities which differs from the more international, wider and often multiple regional presences in the newer renewables business for some firms. Institutional factors are argued to play an important role in both processes. Findings suggest distinct regionalization patterns for business units and different firm-specific advantages, with strategic opportunities related to asset positions. Home-country effects may be linked to a heterogeneous firm-specific home-region liability of foreignness, resulting in incomplete home-region internationalization in most cases.