International joint ventures (IJVs) enable foreign firms to complement their lack of local knowledge and resources by accessing their local partners' knowledge and resource bases. However, IJV formation is not simply a means of overcoming legitimacy-related challenges that stem primarily from a local market's unfamiliarity with foreign firms. This paper proposes that foreign firms can increase the legitimacy of their IJVs to facilitate local market penetration by building interorganizational linkages through which third parties and, especially, prospective customers in local markets can infer the viability and competence of IJVs. Our empirical analyses of manufacturing IJVs in Japan support our arguments.
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