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The OLI Paradigm as a comprehensive model of FDI determinants: a sub-national approach

Cláudia Beatriz Batschauer da Cruz (Business School, PMPGIL, Universidade do Vale do Itajaí - UNIVALI, Itajaí, Brazil)
Dinorá Eliete Floriani (Business School, PMPGIL∕PPGA, Universidade do Vale do Itajaí - UNIVALI, Itajaí, Brazil)
Mohamed Amal (Business School, PMPGIL∕PPGA, Universidade do Vale do Itajaí - UNIVALI, Itajaí, Brazil) (Regional University of Blumenau- FURB, Blumenau, Brazil)

International Journal of Emerging Markets

ISSN: 1746-8809

Article publication date: 14 September 2020

Issue publication date: 21 January 2022




This study aims to advance a sub-national perspective within the OLI Paradigm by analyzing how and to what extent the Eclectic Paradigm can serve as a general model to capture region-specific aspects of the location determinants of FDI, encompassing institutional effects that extend beyond the quality of institutions.


The authors conducted a systematic literature review of 41 selected papers published between 1990 and 2019. Using inductive content analysis, they investigated the theoretical choices used to support analyses of the effects of institutional factors on MNEs' location decisions at the sub-national level.


It was found that, when changing from the national to the sub-national level of analysis, there is no need to change the main assumptions used in the literature, although a different perspective must be adopted. The Eclectic Paradigm permeates most of the studies revised and can serve as a general model to capture the sub-national perspective. It offers a foundation for new perspectives on the dynamics of institutional and political factors and their effects on location strategies and determinants at the sub-national level. Adopting the OLI Paradigm with a sub-national approach could widen the IB literature's prevailing focus on traditional economic factors and institutional quality.

Research limitations/implications

The authors contribute to extant International Business literature Their paper enhances the literature on FDI location determinants by providing a more specific approach to development of a sub-national perspective within the OLI Paradigm, extending the institutional effects to capture more region-specific factors influencing the location of FDI. Study limitations are related to our analytical focus on the location dimension, excluding motives for FDI or firm-level location strategies. Rather than limiting analysis to quantitative studies, future research that includes qualitative studies and also covers the other dimensions of the OLI Paradigm could open additional new research avenues for advancing the sub-national perspective within the field of IB.

Practical implications

The authors’ main findings suggest that MNEs' location strategies should include a sub-national perspective, which means that firms need to assess different levels of the location and understand their interaction with nationwide constraints and limitations, as it may affect firms' ability to effectively conduct their value-adding activities. They also contribute elements that can support sub-national governments' actions and policies aiming to enhance locational advantages to attract and retain FDI.


This review specifically analyzes the location determinants of FDI at the sub-national level, in studies published in a broad set of journals, from a variety of fields, prioritizing articles that investigate sub-national institutional determinants. The authors derive implications for the International Business literature and propose that the sub-national dimension should be incorporated into the Eclectic paradigm in order to better understand the influence of institutional sub-national determinants.



Ministério da Ciência, Tecnologia e Inovação > Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e TecnológicoThis research has been supported by the Brazilian National Council for Scientific and Technological Development (Edital Universal 28/2018).


Batschauer da Cruz, C.B., Eliete Floriani, D. and Amal, M. (2022), "The OLI Paradigm as a comprehensive model of FDI determinants: a sub-national approach", International Journal of Emerging Markets, Vol. 17 No. 1, pp. 145-176.



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