An Investigation of Organizational Strategies to Cope with the Risk of Resource Dependence in China’s Power Generation

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In this study I investigate the organizational strategies that Chinese power generation companies may use to reduce the impact of coal price increases on their profits. Organizations are open systems

In this study I investigate the organizational strategies that Chinese power generation companies may use to reduce the impact of coal price increases on their profits. Organizations are open systems in that no organization possesses all the resources that it needs and all organizations must obtain resources from their external environments in order to survive. Resource dependent theory suggests that the most important goal of an organization is to find effective mechanisms to cope with its dependence on the external environments for resources that are critical to its survival. Chinese power generation companies traditionally rely heavily on coal as their raw materials, and an increase in coal price can have a significant negative impact on their profits. To address this issue, I first provide a systematic review of the resource dependence theory and research, with a focus on the strategies such as vertical integration, diversification, and hedging that organizations can undertake to reduce their dependence on the external environment as well as their respective benefits and costs. Next, I conduct a qualitative case analysis of the primary strategies the largest Chinese power generation companies have used to reduce their dependence on coal. I then explore a new approach that Chinese power generation companies may use to cope with increases in coal price, namely, by investing in an index of coal companies in the stock market. My regression analysis shows that coal price has a strong positive relation with the price of the coal company index. This finding suggests that it is possible for firms to reduce the negative impact of raw material price increase on their profits by investing in a stock market index of the companies that supply the raw materials that they depend on.