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The influence of cultural and institutional distance on China's OFDI efficiency: fresh evidence from stochastic frontier gravity model

Bowen Zheng (Henan University, Kaifeng, China)
Yarou Wang (Henan University, Kaifeng, China)
Muhammad Abdul Kamal (Abdul Wali Khan University Mardan, Mardan, Pakistan)
Assad Ullah (Henan University, Kaifeng, China)

International Journal of Emerging Markets

ISSN: 1746-8809

Article publication date: 1 October 2020

Abstract

Purpose

Culture and institutions are among the essential sources of comparative advantage in international trade and may influence a country's FDI influx. This paper aims to analyze the impact of cultural distance (CD) and institutional distance (ID) on the efficiency of China's outward foreign direct investment (OFDI) for the panel of 43 countries during 2003–2016.

Design/methodology/approach

The stochastic frontier approach (SFA) has been incorporated into the standard gravity model of gravity Kalirajan, 1999; Ravishankar and Stack, 2014). SFA has traditionally been implemented to evaluate the production frontier as the highest yield that could possibly be generated from specified input levels. The production process is viewed to be fully efficient if the real output is performed at frontier level. Otherwise, the production process is assumed technically inefficient, which implies potential scope for enhanced output. This error term is split into two parts, a non-negative term and more standard asymmetrical term. The former identifies inefficiencies in production, while the latter retrieves random disorders

Findings

The outcomes assert a U-shaped relationship between CD and the efficiency of China's OFDI. Put differently, when the CD is minimal, the “liability of foreignness” (LOF) effect plays a dominant role; and CD tends to reduce the efficiency of China's OFDI. On the flip side, when the culture distance is greater than a certain threshold level, the “advantages of foreignness” (AOF) effect plays a predominant role, and CD improves the efficiency of China's OFDI. Institutional distance results in the “LOF” effect significantly reduce the efficiency of China's OFDI.

Research limitations/implications

Notwithstanding these contributions, our study has some limitations which offer directions for future research. The major limitation of this research work is the availability of comprehensive data for a well extended time, in particular for the variable of CD. Further, a firm-level study can shed light on the motivations and performance of China OFDI. Finally, given that our analysis focuses on emerging market multinational enterprises (EMNEs) from China, the findings might not be explicitly generalizable to MNEs from other developing countries. Future studies should concentrate on the comparative study of China's OFDI with other developing countries, to deepen our understanding of the effects of ID and CD on the efficiency of OFDI.

Originality/value

(1) The work is novel in nature as the authors attempt to explore the effect of ID and CD on efficiency of Chinese FDI. To the best of the authors’ knowledge, no research is conducted in this direction in terms of Chinese FDI. (2) Further, the prior studies employed standard gravity model, which may not correctly evaluate the trade potential viewed as the highest potential value. To overcome the shortcomings of the standard gravity model in estimation of the trade performance and efficiency, the SFA has been incorporated into the standard gravity model of gravity.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

This work is supported by Postgraduate Education Innovation and Quality Improvement Program of Henan University (No.SYL19060133)

Citation

Zheng, B., Wang, Y., Kamal, M.A. and Ullah, A. (2020), "The influence of cultural and institutional distance on China's OFDI efficiency: fresh evidence from stochastic frontier gravity model", International Journal of Emerging Markets, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJOEM-10-2019-0789

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

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