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Strategic decisions of multinational enterprises: foreign direct investment and technology

By B. (Ben) Ferrett


This thesis consists of three self-contained chapters concerning the determination of 'equilibrium industrial structures' in 'international oligopolies'. In each model presented in the thesis rival oligopolists in the industry concerned choose their 'corporate structures' and then compete to serve the national product markets (either via local production following foreign direct investment (FDI) or via imports). Our analyses are united by the general types of 'corporate structure' choices considered and by the broad features of 'industrial structure' that are endogenously determined in equilibrium. We emphasise, the roles played by the following three phenomena in shaping 'equilibrium industrial structures': the distinction between greenfield-FDI ('greenfield investment') and acquisition-FDI (cross-border mergers and acquisitions); R&D investments and technology flows ('technology transfer') both within and between firms; and the potential entry into the industry of "outside' firms, and incumbent firms' strategic reactions to the entry threat.\ud The distinction between greenfield-FDI and acquisition-FDI is both empirically and theoretically important: whereas greenfield-FDI adds an extra plant to the host country, acquisition-FDI changes only the ownership pattern of existing plants. Despite this, previous game-theoretic models of equilibrium FDI flows have concentrated exclusively on one type of FDL Therefore, allowing theform of FDI to be endogenously selected as part of the 'equilibrium industrial structure' is both a novel and an interesting feature of our analysis. It also allows us to investigate the differential relationships between the two types of FDI and industry R&D spending (and therefore to test a popular 'failing firm' defence of inward acquisition-FDI: that it fosters 'technological development', the benefits of which outweigh the welfare costs of increased 'concentration'). A further novel feature of our analysis is the potential for (de novo) entry into the industry (at a global level): previous work assumed blockaded entry. We show that a credible entry threat by 'outside' firms has significant consequences for 'equilibrium industrial structure'.\ud At a general level, the results derived in this thesis provide a perspective on the relationship between MNEs' behaviour and industrial structure in 'globalized' industries that contrasts with that offered by Dunning's 'OLI paradigm'.I t is also hoped that this thesis will be viewed as having made a useful contribution to unpicking the aggregation, which frequently occurs in public debate, of greenfield-FDI and acquisition-FDI into a (supposedly homogeneous) flow of 'inward investment'

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