Does it have any meaning or does the writer lacks something after of?

"A partnership with private-sector entities signals a commitment to shareholder value over political priorities," said Fotak, who is also a senior researcher at the Sovereign Investment Lab of Italy's Bocconi University.

"Of course, there is an element of if you can't beat them, join them."

From "Asian sovereign investors face off with funds in hunt for private deals" by Anshuman Daga, July 17, 2017.

  • 1
    You've complicated the issue here by enclosing your entire citation in quote marks. Most careful writers would have put them round the dictum being "mentioned" (as opposed to being "used"): There is an element of "If you can't beat 'em, join 'em" (note that because it's supposed to reflect a piece of colloquial/dialectal wisdom, more often than not we write 'em, not them). Commented Jul 18, 2017 at 12:22

2 Answers 2


The entire phrase if you can't beat X, join X is a well-known saying in AmE.

It's a proverb that is saying that if you are fighting someone, and can't win because they are too strong, consider joining them.

The writer here has essentially used that entire phrase as one word (there isn't a convenient, compact single word that means this in English anyway). It's a bit odd but can work with very well known sayings like this.

In situations like that it's better if quotes are used, IMHO, to indicate to a reader that you are doing something unusual on purpose.

Of course, there is an element of 'if you can't beat them, join them.'

  • 1
    +1 for "the writer has essentially used that entire phrase as one word".
    – TimR
    Commented Jul 18, 2017 at 12:17
  • Many thanks to everyone. I suddenly figured it out right after posting the question.
    – haile
    Commented Jul 18, 2017 at 15:40

It means that the text that follows is a contributing factor. Often it will be a minor or an unmeasurable factor. In the given text it may suggest that political priorities mean they cannot be beaten (ie cannot be out-voted or legislated against). An alternative is to form a partnership so they can be infleuenced and any profits or other gains can be shared.

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