Advanced Search
MyIDEAS: Login to save this paper or follow this series

Foreign direct investment in developing countries: What policymakers should not do and what economists don't know


Author Info

  • Nunnenkamp, Peter


Since recent financial crises in Asia and Latin America, developing countries have been strongly advised to rely primarily on foreign direct investment (FDI) in order to promote economic development on a sustainable basis. Even harsh critics of rash capital account liberalization argue in favor of opening up towards FDI. Yet, economists know surprisingly little about the driving forces and the economic effects of FDI. There are few undisputed insights on which policymakers can rely. Globalization through FDI has become significantly more important since the early 1990s. Various groups of developing countries have participated to a strikingly different degree in the FDI boom. However, the distribution of FDI does not support the widely held view that FDI is concentrated in just a few developing countries. Considered in relative terms, various small and less advanced countries have been attractive to FDI. Policymakers should be aware that various measures intended to induce FDI, including the liberalization of FDI regulations and business facilitation, are unlikely to do the trick. Promotional efforts will help little to attract FDI if economic fundamentals are not conducive to FDI. Fiscal and financial incentives offered to foreign investors may do more harm than good by giving rise to costly “bidding wars.” The importance of traditional determinants of FDI, notably the size of local markets, can no longer be taken for granted. Globalization tends to induce a shift from purely market-seeking FDI to new types of FDI, for which the international competitiveness of local production is highly relevant. The challenge for policymakers in developing countries then is to create immobile domestic assets that provide a competitive edge in the competition for FDI. This task has various dimensions, ranging from local capacity building and the provision of efficient business-related services to trade liberalization with regard to capital goods and intermediate products. Policymakers should not expect too much from FDI inflows. Capital formation continues to be a national phenomenon in the first place. FDI is superior to other types of capital inflows in some respects, particularly because of its risksharing properties, though not necessarily in all respects. The nexus between FDI and overall investment as well as economic growth in host countries is neither self-evident nor straightforward, but remains insufficiently explored territory --

Download Info

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
File URL:
Download Restriction: no

Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW) in its series Kiel Discussion Papers with number 380.

as in new window
Date of creation: 2001
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:zbw:ifwkdp:380

Contact details of provider:
Postal: Kiellinie 66, D-24105 Kiel
Phone: +49 431 8814-1
Fax: +49 431 8814528
Web page:
More information through EDIRC

Related research



References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
as in new window
  1. Thiele, Rainer, 2000. "East Timor's transition to independence: Building up an economy from scratch," Kiel Discussion Papers 368, Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW).
  2. Dohse, Dirk, 2000. "Regionen als Innovationsmotoren: zur Neuorientierung in der deutschen Technologiepolitik," Kiel Discussion Papers 366, Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW).
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
as in new window

Cited by:
  1. Gilroy, Bernard Michael & Lukas, Elmar, 2002. "The New Agenda for FDI: Evidence from South Korea and Germany," MPRA Paper 17970, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  2. Nunnenkamp, Peter, 2003. "Ausländische Direktinvestitionen in Lateinamerkia: Enttäuschte Hoffnungen trotz attraktiver Standortbedingungen?," Open Access Publications from Kiel Institute for the World Economy 3104, Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW).
  3. Peter Nunnenkamp, 2002. "Determinants of FDI in Developing Countries: Has Globalization Changed the Rules of the Game?," Kiel Working Papers 1122, Kiel Institute for the World Economy.


This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.


Access and download statistics


When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:zbw:ifwkdp:380. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (ZBW - German National Library of Economics).

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.