Business combinations are combinations formed by two or more business units, with a view to achieving certain common objective (specially elimination of competition); such combinations ranging from loosest combination through associations to fastest combinations through complete consolidations.
L.H. Haney defines a combination as follows:
“To combine is simply to become one of the parts of a whole; and a combination is merely a union of persons, to make a whole or group for the prosecution of some common purposes.”
Causes of Business Combinations:
(i) Wasteful Competition:
Competition, which is said to be the ‘salt of trade’, by going too far, becomes a very powerful instrument for the inception and growth of business combinations. In fact, competition, according to Haney, is the major driving force, leading to the emergence of combinations, in industry.
(ii) Economies of Large-Scale Organization:
Organisation of production on a large scale brings a large number of well-known advantages in its wake – like technical economies, managerial economies, financial economies, marketing economies and economies vis-a-vis greater resistance to risks and fluctuations in economic activities. Economies of large scale operations, thus become, a powerful force causing increased race for combinations.
(iii) Desire for Monopoly Power:
Monopoly, a natural outcome of combination, leads to the control of market and generally means larger profits for business concerns. The desire to secure monopolistic position certainly prompts producers to join together less than one banner.
(iv) Business Cycles:
Trade cycles, the alternate periods of boom and depression, lead to business combinations. Boom period i.e. prosperity period leading to an unusual growth of firms to reap rich harvest of profits results in intense competition; and becomes a ground for forming combinations.
Depression, the times of economic crisis-with many firms having to only option to close down-prompts business units to combine to ensure their survival.
(v) Joint Stock Companies:
The corporate form of business organization is a facilitating force leading to emergence of business combinations. In joint stock companies, control and management of various corporate enterprises can be concentrated, in a ‘small group of powerful persons through acquiring a controlling amount of shares of different companies.
(vi) Influence of Tariffs:
Tariffs have been referred to as “the mother of all trusts”. (A trust is a form of business combinations). Tariffs do not directly result in combinations; they prepare the necessary ground for it. In fact, imposition of tariffs restricts foreign competition; but increases competition among domestic producers. Home producers resort to combinations, to protect their survival.
(vii) Cult of the Colossal (or Respect for Bigness):
In the present-day-world, business units of bigger size are more respected than units of small size. Those who believe in the philosophy of power and ambition, compel small units to combine; and are instrumental in forming powerful business combinations, in a craze for achieving bigness.
(viii) Individual Organising Ability:
The scarcity of organizing talent has also induced the formation of combinations, in the business world. Many-a-times, therefore, combinations are formed due to the ambition of individuals who are gifted with organising ability. The number of business units is far larger than the skilled business magnates; and many units have to combine to take advantage of the organising ability of these business brains.