IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Do Institutions Matter for Foreign Direct Investment?


  • Fathi Ali
  • Norbert Fiess
  • Ronald MacDonald


In this paper the role of institutions in determining foreign direct investment (FDI) is investigated using a large panel of 107 countries during 1981 and 2005. We find that institutions are a robust predictor of FDI and that the most significant institutional aspects are linked to propriety rights, the rule of law and expropriation risk. Using a novel data set, we also study the impact of institutions on FDI at the sectoral level. We find that institutions do not have a significant impact on FDI in the primary sector but that institutional quality matters for FDI in manufacturing and particularly in services. We also provide policy implications for institutional reform.

Suggested Citation

  • Fathi Ali & Norbert Fiess & Ronald MacDonald, 2008. "Do Institutions Matter for Foreign Direct Investment?," Working Papers 2008_26, Business School - Economics, University of Glasgow.
  • Handle: RePEc:gla:glaewp:2008_26

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Philipp Harms & Heinrich W. Ursprung, 2002. "Do Civil and Political Repression Really Boost Foreign Direct Investments?," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 40(4), pages 651-663, October.
    2. Kaufmann, Daniel & Kraay, Aart & Zoido-Lobaton, Pablo, 1999. "Governance matters," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2196, The World Bank.
    3. Addison, Tony & Heshmati, Almas, 2003. "The New Global Determinants of FDI Flows to Developing Countries: The Importance of ICT and Democratization," WIDER Working Paper Series 045, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
    4. Stephen Knack & Philip Keefer, 1997. "Does Social Capital Have an Economic Payoff? A Cross-Country Investigation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 112(4), pages 1251-1288.
    5. Drabek, Zdenek & Payne, Warren, 2002. "The Impact of Transparency on Foreign Direct Investment," Journal of Economic Integration, Center for Economic Integration, Sejong University, vol. 17, pages 777-810.
    6. Yuko Kinoshita & Nauro F. Campos, 2003. "Why Does Fdi Go Where it Goes? New Evidence From the Transition Economies," IMF Working Papers 03/228, International Monetary Fund.
    7. Henisz, Witold J. & Williamson, Oliver E., 1999. "Comparative Economic Organization—Within and Between Countries," Business and Politics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 1(03), pages 261-277, November.
    8. Kolstad, Ivar & Villanger, Espen, 2008. "Determinants of foreign direct investment in services," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 24(2), pages 518-533, June.
    9. Barro, Robert J, 1996. "Democracy and Growth," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 1(1), pages 1-27, March.
    10. Svensson, Jakob, 1998. "Investment, property rights and political instability: Theory and evidence," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 42(7), pages 1317-1341, July.
    11. Jeffrey D. Sachs & Andrew M. Warner, 1995. "Natural Resource Abundance and Economic Growth," NBER Working Papers 5398, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    12. Barro, Robert J. & Lee, Jong-Wha, 1993. "International comparisons of educational attainment," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 32(3), pages 363-394, December.
    13. Shang-Jin Wei, 2000. "How Taxing is Corruption on International Investors?," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 82(1), pages 1-11, February.
    14. Clague, Christopher & Keefer, Philip & Knack, Stephen & Olson, Mancur, 1996. "Property and Contract Rights in Autocracies and Democracies," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 1(2), pages 243-276, June.
    15. Agnès Bénassy-Quéré & Maylis Coupet & Thierry Mayer, 2007. "Institutional Determinants of Foreign Direct Investment," The World Economy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 30(5), pages 764-782, May.
    16. David H. Romer & Jeffrey A. Frankel, 1999. "Does Trade Cause Growth?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(3), pages 379-399, June.
    17. Hausman, Jerry, 2015. "Specification tests in econometrics," Applied Econometrics, Publishing House "SINERGIA PRESS", vol. 38(2), pages 112-134.
    18. Ewe-Ghee Lim, 2001. "Determinants of, and the Relation Between, Foreign Direct Investment and Growth; A Summary of the Recent Literature," IMF Working Papers 01/175, International Monetary Fund.
    19. Pierre-Guillaume Méon & Khalid Sekkat, 2004. "Does the Quality of Institutions Limit the MENA's Integration in the World Economy?," The World Economy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 27(9), pages 1475-1498, September.
    20. Noorbakhsh, Farhad & Paloni, Alberto & Youssef, Ali, 2001. "Human Capital and FDI Inflows to Developing Countries: New Empirical Evidence," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 29(9), pages 1593-1610, September.
    21. Elizabeth Asiedu, 2006. "Foreign Direct Investment in Africa: The Role of Natural Resources, Market Size, Government Policy, Institutions and Political Instability," The World Economy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 29(1), pages 63-77, January.
    22. John H Dunning, 1998. "Location and the Multinational Enterprise: A Neglected Factor?," Journal of International Business Studies, Palgrave Macmillan;Academy of International Business, vol. 29(1), pages 45-66, March.
    23. Moosa, Imad A. & Cardak, Buly A., 2006. "The determinants of foreign direct investment: An extreme bounds analysis," Journal of Multinational Financial Management, Elsevier, vol. 16(2), pages 199-211, April.
    24. John Dunning, 2001. "The Eclectic (OLI) Paradigm of International Production: Past, Present and Future," International Journal of the Economics of Business, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 8(2), pages 173-190.
    25. Bruce Blonigen, 2005. "A Review of the Empirical Literature on FDI Determinants," Atlantic Economic Journal, Springer;International Atlantic Economic Society, vol. 33(4), pages 383-403, December.
    26. Johannes P. Jütting, 2003. "Institutions and Development: A Critical Review," OECD Development Centre Working Papers 210, OECD Publishing.
    27. Globerman, Steven & Shapiro, Daniel, 2002. "Global Foreign Direct Investment Flows: The Role of Governance Infrastructure," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 30(11), pages 1899-1919, November.
    28. Gastanaga, Victor M. & Nugent, Jeffrey B. & Pashamova, Bistra, 1998. "Host Country Reforms and FDI Inflows: How Much Difference do they Make?," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 26(7), pages 1299-1314, July.
    29. Busse, Matthias & Hefeker, Carsten, 2007. "Political risk, institutions and foreign direct investment," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 23(2), pages 397-415, June.
    30. repec:zbw:wtowps:99-02 is not listed on IDEAS
    31. Robert E. Hall & Charles I. Jones, 1999. "Why do Some Countries Produce So Much More Output Per Worker than Others?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 114(1), pages 83-116.
    32. Schneider, Friedrich & Frey, Bruno S., 1985. "Economic and political determinants of foreign direct investment," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 13(2), pages 161-175, February.
    33. 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.
    34. Matthias Busse, 2004. "Transnational Corporations and Repression of Political Rights and Civil Liberties: An Empirical Analysis," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 57(1), pages 45-65, February.
    35. Christopher F Baum, 2006. "An Introduction to Modern Econometrics using Stata," Stata Press books, StataCorp LP, number imeus, December.
    36. Bevan, Alan & Estrin, Saul & Meyer, Klaus, 2004. "Foreign investment location and institutional development in transition economies," International Business Review, Elsevier, vol. 13(1), pages 43-64, February.
    37. Asiedu, Elizabeth, 2002. "On the Determinants of Foreign Direct Investment to Developing Countries: Is Africa Different?," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 30(1), pages 107-119, January.
    38. Rajneesh Narula & John Dunning, 2000. "Industrial Development, Globalization and Multinational Enterprises: New Realities for Developing Countries," Oxford Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 28(2), pages 141-167.
    39. Aymo Brunetti & Beatrice Weder, 1998. "Investment and institutional uncertainty: A comparative study of different uncertainty measures," Review of World Economics (Weltwirtschaftliches Archiv), Springer;Institut für Weltwirtschaft (Kiel Institute for the World Economy), vol. 134(3), pages 513-533, September.
    40. Mudambi, Ram & Navarra, Pietro, 2002. "Institutions and internation business: a theoretical overview," International Business Review, Elsevier, vol. 11(6), pages 635-646, December.
    41. Aron, Janine, 2000. "Growth and Institutions: A Review of the Evidence," World Bank Research Observer, World Bank Group, vol. 15(1), pages 99-135, February.
    42. Chakrabarti, Avik, 2001. "The Determinants of Foreign Direct Investment: Sensitivity Analyses of Cross-Country Regressions," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 54(1), pages 89-113.
    43. Jensen, Nathan M., 2003. "Democratic Governance and Multinational Corporations: Political Regimes and Inflows of Foreign Direct Investment," International Organization, Cambridge University Press, vol. 57(03), pages 587-616, June.
    44. Wheeler, David & Mody, Ashoka, 1992. "International investment location decisions : The case of U.S. firms," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 33(1-2), pages 57-76, August.
    45. Manuel Arellano & Stephen Bond, 1991. "Some Tests of Specification for Panel Data: Monte Carlo Evidence and an Application to Employment Equations," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 58(2), pages 277-297.
    46. Li, Quan & Resnick, Adam, 2003. "Reversal of Fortunes: Democratic Institutions and Foreign Direct Investment Inflows to Developing Countries," International Organization, Cambridge University Press, vol. 57(01), pages 175-211, December.
    47. Windmeijer, Frank, 2005. "A finite sample correction for the variance of linear efficient two-step GMM estimators," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 126(1), pages 25-51, May.
    48. Henisz, Witold J, 2000. "The Institutional Environment for Multinational Investment," Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 16(2), pages 334-364, October.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item


    Foreign direct investment; institutions; sectoral FDI;

    JEL classification:

    • F3 - International Economics - - International Finance
    • F4 - International Economics - - Macroeconomic Aspects of International Trade and Finance

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:


    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:gla:glaewp:2008_26. 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: (Tedi Racheva). 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.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc 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 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.