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Informal institutions and comparative advantage of South-based MNEs: Theory and evidence

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  • Chang, Pao-Li
  • Chen, Yuting

Abstract

This paper builds a theory based on “informal institutions” to characterize the comparative advantage of South-based MNEs. MNEs headquartered in countries with poorer state institutions are shown to endogenously invest more in firm-specific institutional capital to compensate for the lack of state institutions, and as an optimal response, undertake FDI in countries with weaker institutions. We conduct an extensive test of the theory using worldwide firm-level greenfield FDI flows during 2009–2016, employing (among others) variations in the interaction of prevalence of informal institutions at home and state institutional qualities of host countries, as well as heterogeneity across sectors and firms in their sensitivity to institutional support.

Suggested Citation

  • Chang, Pao-Li & Chen, Yuting, 2021. "Informal institutions and comparative advantage of South-based MNEs: Theory and evidence," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 148(C).
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:deveco:v:148:y:2021:i:c:s0304387820301413
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jdeveco.2020.102566
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Informal institution; Firm productivity; Firm R&D intensity; FDI location;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • D02 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Institutions: Design, Formation, Operations, and Impact
    • D21 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations - - - Firm Behavior: Theory
    • D22 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations - - - Firm Behavior: Empirical Analysis
    • F21 - International Economics - - International Factor Movements and International Business - - - International Investment; Long-Term Capital Movements
    • F23 - International Economics - - International Factor Movements and International Business - - - Multinational Firms; International Business

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