Do Institutions Impact Differently Inward Greenfield FDI and Cross-Border M&A Sales? A Study of Five Institutional Quality Indicators in Developed and Developing Countries

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This study aims to test the impact of different institutional quality indicators on two modes of foreign direct investment (FDI)-greenfield investment and cross-border mergers and acquisitions (M&As) for a sample of 110 countries over the period 2003–2017.


The authors develop a model of well-known FDI determinants, such as market size and potential, openness, the value of the national currency and the quality of institutions. The authors examine one-by-one five different institutional factors: law and order, investment profile of the host country, control of corruption (anti-corruption); democratic accountability, and government stability, applying a generalized method of moments (GMM) estimator that assures no endogeneity and reverse causality of the key explanatory variables.


The results point out the fact that fertile institutional conditions for attracting greenfield FDI to developing countries require law and order, good investment conditions and a state of democracy, but not necessarily tight control of corruption and a stable government. On the other hand, the appropriate institutional environment for attracting cross-border M&A sales flows to developing countries includes strong law and order, good investment conditions, strict control of corruption and strong democratic accountability. The results for developed countries show overall smaller importance of institutions as a determinant of both types of FDI.


This is the first study to analyze the differentiated determinants of the two modes of investment. The study holds implications for crafting two different policies for attracting greenfield FDI and M&A sales.