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Why and how FDI stocks are a biased measure of MNE affiliate activity

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  • Beugelsdijk, S.

    (Tilburg University)

  • Hennart, J.M.A.

    (Tilburg University)

  • Slangen, A.H.L.

    (Tilburg University)

  • Smeets, R.

Abstract

Many international business (IB) studies have used foreign direct investment (FDI) stocks to measure the aggregate value-adding activity of multinational enterprises (MNE) affiliates in host countries. We argue that FDI stocks are a biased measure of that activity, because the degree to which they overestimate or underestimate affiliate activity varies systematically with host-country characteristics. First, most FDI into countries that serve as tax havens generate no actual productive activity; thus FDI stocks in such countries overestimate affiliate activity. Second, FDI stocks do not include locally raised external funds, funds widely used in countries with well-developed financial markets or volatile exchange rates, resulting in an underestimation of affiliate activity in such countries. Finally, the extent to which FDI translates into affiliate activity increases with affiliate labor productivity, so in countries where labor is more productive, FDI stocks also result in an underestimation of affiliate activity. We test these hypotheses by first regressing affiliate value-added and affiliate sales on FDI stocks to calculate a country-specific mismatch, and then by regressing this mismatch on a host country's tax haven status, level of financial market development, exchange rate volatility, and affiliate labor productivity. All hypotheses are supported, implying that FDI stocks are a biased measure of MNE affiliate activity, and hence that the results of FDI-data-based studies of such activity need to be reconsidered.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Tilburg University in its series Open Access publications from Tilburg University with number urn:nbn:nl:ui:12-3982853.

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Date of creation: 2010
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Publication status: Published in Journal of International Business Studies (2010) v.41, p.1444-1459
Handle: RePEc:ner:tilbur:urn:nbn:nl:ui:12-3982853

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Web page: http://www.tilburguniversity.edu/

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Cited by:
  1. Papageorgiadis, Nikolaos & Cross, Adam R. & Alexiou, Constantinos, 2013. "The impact of the institution of patent protection and enforcement on entry mode strategy: A panel data investigation of U.S. firms," International Business Review, Elsevier, vol. 22(1), pages 278-292.
  2. Martin Falk, 2013. "New empirical findings for international investment in intangible assets," WWWforEurope Working Papers series 30, WWWforEurope.
  3. Dikova, Desislava & Smeets, Roger & Garretsen, Harry & Van Ees, Hans, 2013. "Immediate responses to financial crises: A focus on US MNE subsidiaries," International Business Review, Elsevier, vol. 22(1), pages 202-215.
  4. Kim, Phillip H. & Li, Mingxiang, 2014. "Injecting demand through spillovers: Foreign direct investment, domestic socio-political conditions, and host-country entrepreneurial activity," Journal of Business Venturing, Elsevier, vol. 29(2), pages 210-231.
  5. Thilo Hanemann, 2014. "Chinese direct investment in the EU and the US: a comparative view," Asia Europe Journal, Springer, vol. 12(1), pages 127-142, March.
  6. Amighini, Alessia & Cozza, Claudio & Rabellotti, Roberta & Sanfilippo, Marco, 2014. "An analysis of Chinese outward FDIs in Europe with firm-level data," CIRCLE Electronic Working Papers 2014/2, Lund University, CIRCLE - Center for Innovation, Research and Competences in the Learning Economy.

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