Date of Award

Spring 5-21-2010

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Managerial Sciences

First Advisor

William Bogner

Second Advisor

Pamela Barr

Third Advisor

Martin Grace

Fourth Advisor

Javier Gimeno


Multimarket competition has become a substantial part of the modern economy. As such, it has drawn the attention of academics in both economics and strategy fields. Many studies have found empirical evidence of mutual forbearance in several industries, but despite its importance, its behavioral roots have not been explored. In my dissertation I integrate the reality of boundedly-rational decision makers into the mutual forbearance hypothesis. I apply an outgrowth of the behavioral theory of the firm – the shifting focus model of risk taking – to the study of competitive behavior. I propose a behavioral model of multimarket competition that focuses on corporate strategic decisions - market entry and exit decisions, regardless of entry mode (e.g. acquisitions) or exit mode (e.g. divestitures). This approach provides a granular view of changes in the business scope of the firms in terms of product and geographic markets served. I test my hypotheses in the U.S. property liability insurance industry over a 12-year period (1998-2008). I argue that firms follow the mutual forbearance logic as long as their performance goals are satisfied. However, under conditions of adversity, firms shift attention to recovering from the performance shortfall and their actions deviate from the mutual forbearance predictions. This dissertation shows that underperforming firms with abundant slack take longer to forbear, and underperforming firms with limited slack start forbearing sooner, as predicted. By bridging behavioral and competitive perspectives to the study of market entry and exit decisions, I underscore the value of cross-fertilization in strategy research.