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An Assignment Theory of Foreign Direct Investment

  • Volker Nocke
  • Stephen Yeaple

We develop an assignment theory to analyse the volume and composition of foreign direct investment (FDI). Firms conduct FDI by either engaging in greenfield investment or in cross-border acquisitions. Cross-border acquisitions involve firms trading heterogeneous corporate assets to exploit complementarities, while greenfield FDI involves setting up a new production division in the foreign country. In equilibrium, greenfield FDI and cross-border acquisitions coexist within the same industry, but the composition of FDI between these modes varies with firm and country characteristics. Firms engaging in greenfield investment are systematically more efficient than those engaging in cross-border acquisitions. Furthermore, most FDI takes the form of cross-border acquisitions when production-cost differences between countries are small, while greenfield investment plays a more important role for FDI from high-cost into low-cost countries. These results capture important features of the data. Copyright 2008, Wiley-Blackwell.

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Article provided by Oxford University Press in its journal The Review of Economic Studies.

Volume (Year): 75 (2008)
Issue (Month): 2 ()
Pages: 529-557

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Handle: RePEc:oup:restud:v:75:y:2008:i:2:p:529-557
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  1. Vojislav Maksimovic, 2001. "The Market for Corporate Assets: Who Engages in Mergers and Asset Sales and Are There Efficiency Gains?," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 56(6), pages 2019-2065, December.
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  15. Yeaple, Stephen & Helpman, Elhanan & Melitz, Marc, 2004. "Export versus FDI with Heterogeneous Firms," Scholarly Articles 3229098, Harvard University Department of Economics.
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