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On the genesis of multinational foreign affiliate networks

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  • Egger, Peter
  • Fahn, Matthias
  • Merlo, Valeria
  • Wamser, Georg

Abstract

Multinational enterprises (MNEs) develop their networks of foreign affiliates gradually over time. Instead of exploring all profitable opportunities immediately, they first establish themselves in their home countries and then enter new markets stepwise. We argue that this behavior is driven by uncertainty concerning a firm’s success in new markets. After entry, the firm collects information which is used to update its beliefs about its performance in a market. As conditions in different markets are correlated, the information gathered in one of them can also be used to update beliefs elsewhere - with the degree of correlation depending on issues such as the geographical or cultural distance between markets. This correlated learning may render it optimal to enter markets sequentially - investment in market A is only followed by entry in market B if the firm was sufficiently successful in A. The prediction that firms start their expansion in markets that are closer to their home base and then proceed step by step is supported by our empirical analysis, which features the universe of foreign affiliates held by German multinationals. Based on a rich set of benchmark estimates and sensitivity checks, we identify correlated learning across markets beyond alternative explanations as a key driver of gradualism in the genesis of MNEs’ foreign affiliate networks.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by University of Munich, Department of Economics in its series Munich Reprints in Economics with number 20554.

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Date of creation: 2014
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Publication status: Published in European Economic Review 65(2014): pp. 136-163
Handle: RePEc:lmu:muenar:20554

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  1. Facundo Albornoz & Hector F. Calvo Pardo & Gregory Corcos & Emanuel Ornelas, 2010. "Sequential Exporting," Discussion Papers 10-08, Department of Economics, University of Birmingham.
  2. Jonathan Eaton, Marcela Eslava, Maurice Kugler, and James Tybout, 2007. "Export Dynamics in Colombia: Firm-Level Evidence," Working Papers eg0038, Wilfrid Laurier University, Department of Economics, revised 2007.
  3. Maggie Xiaoyang Chen & Michael Owen Moore, 2009. "Location Decisions of Heterogeneous Multinational Firms," Working Papers 2009-17, The George Washington University, Institute for International Economic Policy.
  4. Devereux, Michael P. & Griffith, Rachel, 1998. "Taxes and the location of production: evidence from a panel of US multinationals," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 68(3), pages 335-367, June.
  5. Alan Carruth & Andy Dickerson & Andrew Henley, 1998. "What Do We Know About Investment Under Uncertainty?," Studies in Economics 9804, Department of Economics, University of Kent.
  6. Bergemann, D. & Hege, U., 2001. "The Financing of Innovation: Learning and Stopping," Discussion Paper 2001-16, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.
  7. Irarrazabal, Alfonso & Moxnes, Andreas & Opromolla, Luca David, 2009. "The Margins of Multinational Production and the Role of Intra-firm trade," CEPR Discussion Papers 7145, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  8. Jovanovic, Boyan, 1979. "Job Matching and the Theory of Turnover," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 87(5), pages 972-90, October.
  9. Wolfgang Keller & Stephen Ross Yeaple, 2013. "The Gravity of Knowledge," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 103(4), pages 1414-44, June.
  10. Aizenman, Joshua & Marion, Nancy, 2004. "The merits of horizontal versus vertical FDI in the presence of uncertainty," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 62(1), pages 125-148, January.
  11. Becker, Sascha O. & Egger, Peter H. & Merlo, Valeria, 2012. "How low business tax rates attract MNE activity: Municipality-level evidence from Germany," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 96(9-10), pages 698-711.
  12. Bergemann, Dirk & Hege, Ulrich, 1997. "Venture Capital Financing, Moral Hazard and Learning," CEPR Discussion Papers 1738, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  13. Rauch, James E. & Watson, Joel, 2003. "Starting small in an unfamiliar environment," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 21(7), pages 1021-1042, September.
  14. Steven Callander, 2011. "Searching and Learning by Trial and Error," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 101(6), pages 2277-2308, October.
  15. Sascha O. Becker & Peter Egger & Valeria Merlo, 2009. "How Low Business Tax Rates Attract Multinational Headquarters: Municipality-Level Evidence from Germany," CESifo Working Paper Series 2517, CESifo Group Munich.
  16. Cripps, Martin & Keller, Godfrey & Rady, Sven, 2003. "Strategic Experimentation with Exponential Bandits," Discussion Papers in Economics 4, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
  17. Schmeiser, Katherine N., 2012. "Learning to export: Export growth and the destination decision of firms," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 87(1), pages 89-97.
  18. Horst Raff, 2002. "Preferential Trade Agreements and Tax Competition for Foreign Direct Investment," CESifo Working Paper Series 763, CESifo Group Munich.
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Cited by:
  1. Facundo Albornoz & Hector Calvo-Pardo & Gregory Corcos & Emanuel Ornelas, 2010. "Sequential Exporting," CEP Discussion Papers dp0974, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  2. Becker, Sascha O. & Egger, Peter H. & Merlo, Valeria, 2012. "How low business tax rates attract MNE activity: Municipality-level evidence from Germany," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 96(9-10), pages 698-711.
  3. Badinger Harald & Peter Egger, 2013. "Spacey Parents and Spacey Hosts in FDI," Department of Economics Working Papers wuwp154, Vienna University of Economics, Department of Economics.

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