Emerging Economy Inward and Outward Foreign Direct Investment: A Bibliometric and Thematic Content Analysis.

VerfasserSilva-Oliveira, Keilla Dayane da

1 Introduction

Over the past two decades, there has been a significant growth in the international business (IB) literature on foreign direct investment (FDI), in particular into and from the emerging economies (Borin & Mancini, 2016; Danakol et al., 2017; Iamsiraroj, 2016; Neumayer et al., 2016; Nielsen et al., 2017; Pinto & Zhu, 2009). Defined as "the establishment of a lasting interest in, and significant degree of influence over, the operations of an enterprise in one economy by an investor in another economy" (OECD, 2015, p. 5), the particular attention afforded FDI in the emerging economy context is hardly surprising. As Korinek (2017) highlights from an investment perspective, these economies have offered the prospect of higher growth opportunities than some of their developed counterparts with the result that they have proven especially attractive for inward FDI. Data from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) confirms the growth pattern among emerging economies, making them an important engine for overall global growth (IMF, 2018). Furthermore, data from the World Bank (2019), presented in the most recent Global Economic Prospects Report, show that the real Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth of emerging economies between 2016 and 2017 outstripped both the real GDP growth of developed economies, and that of the world average. Thus, while world GDP growth rates were 2.4% and 3.1% respectively in the years 2016 and 2017, the equivalent rates for developed economies were 1.7% and 2.3%, while the rates for emerging economies stood at 3.7% and 4.3%.

Against the backdrop of this trajectory, we offer an assessment of the scholarly literature on FDI in the emerging economy context. In providing an exposition and classification of the body of work, we make a number of contributions to the field as follows. Firstly, we establish the root trajectories of the scholarship including for example tracing the outlets where it is published, the countries from which it comes, and the impact it has had. Secondly, we identify key research co-authorship networks in the field. Thirdly, through a thematic content analysis, we unearth the dominant themes that have been explored in the literature and we identify content categories arising from shared qualities that categorize the body of work to-date. In this way we seek to bring systematics to aspects of the scholarship on emerging economy FDI and advance understanding of key elements of the phenomenon in a more holistic way. In curating and organizing this body of work, we highlight particular knowledge gaps. We distill three types of FDI which we classify as Conservative, Bold and Moderate and we call attention to a number of prospective research opportunities. Since an amount of scholarship has relied on institutional and resource-dependency ideas, we suggest that the deployment of additional theoretical lenses may serve to cast light on different aspects of FDI in this context. Thus, for example, there may be particular value in further spotlighting variations between subnational regions in emerging economies and the experiences of the EMNEs in their respective subnational contexts. Prevailing aspects of these subnational contexts are central to unravelling influences on the performance of subsidiaries (Deng, 2009; Luo et al., 2010; Meyer et al., 2009; Stallkamp et al., 2018; Yiu et al., 2007). The management styles of EMNEs and their ownership advantages, along with the reasons for internationalization may also merit more attention. Similarly, a greater focus on the volatility of emerging markets due to the different types of risks and a more in-depth understanding of institutional distance between emerging economies may generate additional insights (Hu & Cui, 2014; Luo et al., 2010; Sanfilippo, 2015). Overall, therefore, through the application of both bibliometric techniques and thematic content analysis, particularly following what has been a period of sustained growth in scholarship, we take stock of the contours of the knowledge base, we synthesize key findings, and we signpost possible future research avenues.

The remainder of our paper proceeds as follows. Firstly, to connect with the background literature, we briefly outline definitional issues and classifications pertaining to emerging economies and FDI. We then describe the process we followed in generating our bibliometric data. This is followed by a presentation of our results encompassing both our performance analysis and our thematic content analysis. The former includes inter alia, the most cited documents, a co-citation analysis and key word co-occurrence analysis, while the latter isolates key themes, lenses and theories informing the body of work to-date. Finally, we synthesize the key findings emerging from our analysis and we identify possible research questions.

2 Background

FDI is frequently viewed as a fundamental part of the architecture of an economy's developmental trajectory, in particular in the case of emerging economies. Many go to significant lengths to highlight the locational, institutional and human capital endowments that they possess which make them particularly attractive host locations for inward FDI flows. In emerging economies with institutional environments characterized by resource constraints, relatively light-touch regulation, but a concomitant capacity from frugal innovation, playing host to FDI is a necessary plank of the economic developmental model (Horwitz & Budhwar, 2015; Modou & Yun, 2017; Peng, 2001; Yiu et al., 2007; Zeschky et al., 2011). Among other things, this FDI contributes to their respective balance of payments, provides exchange rate stability, reduces the volatility of the economy, and ensures greater predictability for economic agents in general (Ayme, 2003; Bhat & Bhat, 2021).

The emerging economies which succeed in attracting FDI, Iamsiraroj (2016) highlights, do so for several reasons including the provision of access to advanced technology, the development of core competences, the exhibiting of research and development capabilities, and the provision of financial incentives, the combination of which are offered as essential assets to stimulate creativity and economic development. The benefits accruing to the host location and the MNE represent a combination of significant employment generation, productivity expansion and costs reduction (Borin & Mancini, 2016).

The particular interest in emerging economies by MNEs is illustrated by the fact that inward flows of FDI into these economies in 2017 alone amounted to some $671 billion dollars, making MNEs a significant source of external financing for the emerging economies of the last decade, in comparison with the other available sources. Amatucci and Avrichir (2008) highlight that the MNEs FDI decision revolves around several key considerations, including for example an assessment of the tax barriers imposed by each country and their infrastructure, access to raw material, and the likely prevailing political and social conditions. Yang et al. (2013) also point out that the location, infrastructure, political stability, transportation costs, quality of work and commerce flow of the country represent important contextual considerations governing the decision relating to the destination of the FDI. MNEs make gains by combining different resources and exploring new markets, while the emerging economies seek to attract FDI by emphasizing their location specific advantages.

3 Data and Methods

Bibliometric research involving the identification, curation, and statistical analysis of a defined body of academic communication contained in publications makes it possible to evaluate the scientific contours of a domain area of scholarship, along with the nature and direction of its development over time (Merigo et al., 2016; Ruas & Pereira, 2014; van Eck & Waltman, 2014; van Leeuwen, 2006; van Leeuwen et al., 2003; van Raan, 2005). Following the methodological proposal made by Lopez-Fernandez et al. (2016), the database that we assembled and analyzed on emerging market inward and outward FDI is derived from the Web of Science (WoS) core collection and involved a six-stage process as set out in Fig. 1 below.

We started with a comprehensive data-base search in the WoS. It allows for the harvesting of data from a suite of journals and is recognized as a reliable database for conducting bibliometric studies (Ding et al., 2014). To identify the sample for our study, two filters were employed: The first filter used the search string "foreign direct investment" and "FDI" in the title, summary, and keywords fields, which resulted in 11,319 selected articles. The second filter used the string "emerging market", "emerging economy" or "emerging economies", using the search in the same fields as the first filter yielded 9,804 articles. The subsequent combining of the two filters resulted in 806 relevant articles for inclusion spanning the period 1994 to 2019. We then engaged in a bibliometric and thematic analysis of the body of work selected. Two main bibliometric techniques were used: performance analysis and scientific mapping. As an approach, bibliometric analysis can contribute to the generation of deeper insights into the scientific intellectual structure underpinning a body of work and to an understanding of how arguments are built, and how knowledge accumulates in publications in sequence (White & Griffith, 1981). It facilitates the identification of key authors through records and citations (White & Mccain, 1998). Furthermore, co-citation analysis connects specific published research (Leydesdorff, 2005; McCain, 1990), and a fundamental mapping of the cited and cocited articles offers the possibility of a fuller understanding of the building blocks and trajectory of a research field (Ding et al., 2000). To obtain clusters and identify co-authorship networks, methodological guidelines proposed by van Eck and...

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