IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

International investment and colonial control: a new interpretation


  • Frieden, Jeffry A.


The impact of economic factors on colonial imperialism in the late nineteenth century has long been a topic of debate. This article examines the expected relationship between different forms of international investment and different patterns of political ties between developed and developing countries. Drawing on the literature on relational contracts and collective action, it argues that direct colonial control was likely to be associated with cross-border investments whose rents were particularly easy to seize or protect, and whose protection did not require multilateral action. Where such rents were difficult to seize or protect unilaterally, colonialism is expected to be less likely. The most common example of the former sort of investment is primary (raw-materials or agricultural) investment; of the latter, multinational manufacturing affiliates. The argument is weighed against both a survey of the qualitative evidence and some simple quantitative evaluations. The approach also has potential applications to more general problems of international conflict and cooperation.

Suggested Citation

  • Frieden, Jeffry A., 1994. "International investment and colonial control: a new interpretation," International Organization, Cambridge University Press, vol. 48(04), pages 559-593, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:cup:intorg:v:48:y:1994:i:04:p:559-593_02

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    File Function: link to article abstract page
    Download Restriction: no

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Antoine Gervais & J. Bradford Jensen, 2013. "The Tradability of Services: Geographic Concentration and Trade Costs," NBER Working Papers 19759, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Alan S. Blinder & Alan B. Krueger, 2013. "Alternative Measures of Offshorability: A Survey Approach," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 31(S1), pages 97-128.
    3. Edward E. Leamer, 2007. "A Flat World, a Level Playing Field, a Small World After All, or None of the Above? A Review of Thomas L Friedman's The World is Flat," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 45(1), pages 83-126, March.
    4. repec:cup:apsrev:v:83:y:1989:i:02:p:567-573_08 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. repec:cup:apsrev:v:105:y:2011:i:01:p:166-188_00 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. repec:cup:apsrev:v:96:y:2002:i:03:p:593-608_00 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. J. Bradford Jensen, 2011. "Global Trade in Services: Fear, Facts, and Offshoring," Peterson Institute Press: All Books, Peterson Institute for International Economics, number 6017.
    8. Ron S Jarmin & Javier Miranda, 2002. "The Longitudinal Business Database," Working Papers 02-17, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
    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.

    Cited by:

    1. repec:bla:ecopol:v:29:y:2017:i:2:p:91-117 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Daron Acemoglu & Simon Johnson & James A. Robinson, 2001. "The Colonial Origins of Comparative Development: An Empirical Investigation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(5), pages 1369-1401, December.

    More about this item


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:cup:intorg:v:48:y:1994:i:04:p:559-593_02. 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: (Keith Waters). General contact details of provider: .

    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.

    We have no references for this item. You can help adding them by using 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 RePEc Author Service 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.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.