Determinants of Foreign Direct and Indirect Investments from the Institutional Perspective

International Journal of Emerging Markets, Vol. 13, 2018

19 Pages Posted: 5 Jan 2022

See all articles by Liu Wang

Liu Wang

Providence College - School of Business

Shaomin Li

Old Dominion University


Purpose – Amid the rising concerns about the unbalanced globalization, there has been a renewed interest in examining the pattern of international trade and investment, especially between emerging and mature economies. In this study, the purpose of this paper is to examine the role of different institutional and market-related determinants in shaping the pattern and mode of foreign investments in emerging and developed markets.

Design/methodology/approach – The empirical investigation is based on a balanced panel sample of 45 countries (28 developed countries and 17 emerging economies) over an 11-year period from 2002 to 2012. A series of multivariable regressions are conducted to evaluate both the trend and the mode of foreign investment with rigorous robustness checks.

Findings – Overall, the authors find that market openness and capital market development are the main determinants of a country’s ability to attract foreign investment in developed countries, while the governance environment is the key consideration in emerging markets. Regarding the mode of foreign investment, the authors find that, in developed markets, foreign investors tend to choose direct investment in the countries with more open markets. In emerging markets, however, the choice between direct and indirect (portfolio) investments is mainly driven by arbitrage activities, where investors opt for portfolio investment when the stock market is undervalued.

Practical implications – First, the findings may aid foreign investors in their strategic choice between emerging vs mature markets based on the governance environment, market openness, capital market development and arbitrage opportunities. Second, the findings may be used to aid governments in prioritizing institutional improvement in market openness, stock market development and policies aimed at balancing different investment channels.

Social implications – The study may enhance the social understanding on the current debate on the winners and losers of globalization. A main complaint from mature economies is that the emerging economies took their jobs away and, therefore, they should adopt protectionism (which implies closing their own markets) in order to preserve jobs. The study shows that such a reaction may not be in the best interests of the mature economies since they will be able to attract more foreign investment (which implies creating or at least keeping more jobs) if they make their markets more open.

Originality/value – Existing studies on foreign investment have primarily focused on direct investment. The study examines both the direct and indirect investments and the way in which they affect the foreign investment markets in emerging and mature economies. From the institutional perspective, the authors show how the governance environment and market factors affect foreign investors’ strategic choice between direct and indirect investment, contingent upon the stage of a country’s economic and institutional development.

Keywords: Foreign direct investment, Stock market development, Foreign portfolio investment, Cross-country arbitrage, Governance environment, Market openness

JEL Classification: F21

Suggested Citation

Wang, Liu and Li, Shaomin, Determinants of Foreign Direct and Indirect Investments from the Institutional Perspective. International Journal of Emerging Markets, Vol. 13, 2018, Available at SSRN:

Liu Wang (Contact Author)

Providence College - School of Business ( email )

Department of Finance, School of Business
Providence College
Providence, RI 02918
United States
401-865-1883 (Phone)

Shaomin Li

Old Dominion University ( email )

Norfolk, VA 23529-0222
United States

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