To read this content please select one of the options below:

The World Investment Report at 20

Grazia Ietto‐Gillies (London South Bank University, London, UK and Birkbeck University of London, London, UK)

Critical Perspectives on International Business

ISSN: 1742-2043

Article publication date: 27 July 2011




The purpose of this paper is to review and analyse the World Investment Report 2010 in the context of all the previous World Investment Reports (WIRs) and their historical background.


The paper presents a historical analysis, the structural features of all WIRs, and an analysis of content and limitations of WIR 2010.


The paper starts with considering the historical background leading to successive units dealing with transnational corporations (TNCs) within the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD). The commonalities in structure, content and methodology among all WIRs are discussed. The essay then analyses the World Investment Report 2010. The conclusions make suggestions for revisiting some of the themes of earlier WIRs.

Research limitations/implications

As a review essay, the paper does not present new empirical results.

Practical implications

The paper makes suggestions for possible content in future WIRs and for revisiting some of the earlier themes in the context of the new economic, political and technological environment. It also argues that tackling problems related to damages to a global public good – the environment – requires the cooperation of both developed and developing regions as well as the development and implementation of global strategies.

Social implications

The WIR has always had a developmental and policy focus. This is also the case of the WIR 2010. However, given the topic – FDI in low‐carbon products and processes – there are limitations in considering possible policies for developing countries, first because dealing with the environment requires more focus on the developed countries, and second because there is still no international agreement on global strategies towards climate change.


The paper presents a historical analysis of the World Investment Report. It presents an analysis of the common structural, content and methodological features of all WIRs, and of WIR 2010 in relation to development and policies in the world economy. The paper stresses the relevance of dealing with a global public good – the environment – at the global level not at the level of single nations or regions. It also highlights the need to consider the problem and related policies in relation to developed countries. It discusses the limitations in terms of strategies and policies due to lack of international agreement.



Ietto‐Gillies, G. (2011), "The World Investment Report at 20", Critical Perspectives on International Business, Vol. 7 No. 3, pp. 271-280.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Related articles