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Forough Zarea Fazlelahi and J. Henri Burgers

Transaction Cost Economics and the Resource-Based View are two traditional lenses to explain vertical integration decisions. However, these lenses face limitations in considering the persistence of such decisions over time. Drawing on imprinting theory, this chapter provides a theoretical link between the initial natural resource characteristics surrounding a firm’s birth and its choice and persistence of vertical integration. The main argument is that initial natural resource conditions have an imprinting effect on the vertical integration decisions made by firms in the extractive industries. A process through which imprinting happens is explained. We discuss several propositions concerning the kind of influence different initial natural resource characteristics have on firm decisions. Our main contribution is presenting a natural imprinting view that can explain the enduring effect of natural environment characteristics on firms’ ownership structures in the extractive industries.