Corporate strategy forms the platform to consider fundamental strategic alternatives for an organisation. The recent financial crisis has been a sobering reality check for most companies. Diversification or specialisation are two of the more common configurations that corporate strategy theory would propose to grow and sustain financial performance, particularly during though times. Research conducted in developed markets since the 1950’s have tried to establish if diversification creates or destroys value. Conglomerates, defined as unrelated diversification, are often believed to translate into diversification discounts in developed economies. The application of this theory has been questioned with respect to emerging markets and the empirical results in these markets have been mixed. A conceptual approach using different approaches, institutional, resourcebased, adaptive and learning theories was used to try and explain the deviation in results attained by conglomerates within emerging markets and those in developed markets. Specific arguments and propositions were developed based on these different theoretical lenses for South Africa. These propositions were tested by statistical analysis of organisations listed on the Industrial sector of the Johannesburg Securities Exchange (JSE). The organisations were categorised into conglomerates or focused groups. The two groups were compared in terms of financial measures from the period 2001 to 2009 to determine which group performed better.