NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
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Evidence for the Effect of Monitoring Costs on Foreign Direct Investment

Bruce A. Blonigen, Anca D. Cristea, Donghyun Lee

NBER Working Paper No. 25933
Issued in June 2019
NBER Program(s):Industrial Organization Program, International Trade and Investment Program

A proposed reason for the significant inverse relationship between distance (both physical and cultural) and foreign direct investment is the increased costs for a parent firm to monitor an affiliate when there is greater distance between them. We provide the first direct test of this hypothesis using O*NET data on occupational skills to construct industry-level measures of the importance of monitoring-related skills. We then exploit this cross-industry variation to examine whether physical and cultural distances have a greater impact on cross-border M&A in industries where monitoring-related skills are more important. Using data on worldwide cross-border M&A activity from 1985 through 2014, we find significant evidence for the effect of monitoring costs on cross-border M&A activity. We also show that the relatively low importance of monitoring-related costs in manufacturing industries compared to those in other sectors is an important factor in explaining why cross-border M&A in manufacturing is so large despite its relatively small share of the modern economy.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w25933

 
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