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Core competencies, matching, and the structure of foreign direct investment: an update

  • Federico J. Díez
  • Alan C. Spearot

We develop a matching model of foreign direct investment to study how multinational firms choose between greenfield investment, acquisitions, and joint ownership. Firms must invest in a continuum of tasks to bring a product to market. Each firm possesses a core competency in the task space, but the firms are otherwise identical. For acquisitions and joint ownership, a multinational enterprise (MNE) must match with a local partner that may provide complementary expertise within the task space. However, under joint ownership, investment in tasks is shared by multiple owners and hence is subject to a holdup problem that varies with contract intensity. In equilibrium, ex ante identical multinationals enter the local matching market, and ex post, three different types of heterogeneous firms arise. Specifically, the worst matches are forgone and the MNEs invest greenfield; the middle matches operate under joint ownership; and the best matches integrate via full acquisition. We link the firm-level model to cross-country and industry predictions related to development and contract intensity, respectively, where greater contract intensity and a relatively more developed target market yield a higher share of full acquisitions. Using data on partial and full acquisitions across industries and countries, we find robust support for both predictions.

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Paper provided by Federal Reserve Bank of Boston in its series Working Papers with number 12-8.

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Date of creation: 2012
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Handle: RePEc:fip:fedbwp:12-8
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  1. Gene M. Grossman & Elhanan Helpman, 2002. "Outsourcing in a Global Economy," Working Papers 149, Princeton University, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Discussion Papers in Economics..
  2. Holger Breinlich, 2006. "Trade liberalization and industrial restructuring through mergers and acquisitions," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 19868, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  3. V.N. Balasubramanyam, 2008. "Foreign Direct Investment," Chapters, in: International Handbook of Development Economics, Volumes 1 & 2, chapter 39 Edward Elgar.
  4. Volker Nocke & Stephen Yeaple, 2004. "An Assignment Theory of Foreign Direct Investment," PIER Working Paper Archive 05-003, Penn Institute for Economic Research, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania.
  5. Alan C. Spearot, 2012. "Firm Heterogeneity, New Investment and Acquisitions," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 60(1), pages 1-45, 03.
  6. Stähler, Frank & Ryan, Michael & Raff, Horst, 2007. "The Choice of Market Entry Mode: Greenfield Investment, M&A and Joint Venture," Economics Working Papers 2007,19, Christian-Albrechts-University of Kiel, Department of Economics.
  7. Bircan, Çağatay, 2011. "Optimal Degree of Foreign Ownership under Uncertainty," Working Papers 617, Research Seminar in International Economics, University of Michigan.
  8. Sinha, Uday Bhanu, 2001. "International joint venture, licensing and buy-out under asymmetric information," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 66(1), pages 127-151, October.
  9. Blonigen, Bruce A. & Fontagné, Lionel & Sly, Nicholas & Toubal, Farid, 2014. "Cherries for sale: The incidence and timing of cross-border M&A," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 94(2), pages 341-357.
  10. Kogut, Bruce, 1989. "The Stability of Joint Ventures: Reciprocity and Competitive Rivalry," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 38(2), pages 183-98, December.
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