Institutional investors, who currently control almost 60% of the outstanding common shares of stock in the United States, are a potent force. Hewlett-Packard Co. could easily have failed in its landmark $19 billion merger with Compaq Computer Corp. had many institutional investors elected to block that deal. Indeed, such shareholders can greatly influence a company's corporate strategy by exerting subtle (or not so subtle) pressures on executives. But recent research has shown that not all institutional investors are alike. In fact, different groups often have contradictory views regarding, for example, whether a corporation should fund internal efforts to develop a technology or instead acquire it from the outside. Another crucial factor is whether a company's board is composed mainly of outside directors or inside executives.Prior research has found links between institutional investors and corporate strategy, but the results have been inconclusive. One theory asserts that pressures from institutional investors tend to make company executives focus on short-term results, and so those organizations become risk-averse. For example, institutional investors might shy away from companies pursuing entrepreneurial activities, such as research and development to generate revolutionary new products, which then discourages those businesses from pursuing similar projects in the future.