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The role of context-specific factors in IFDI’s influence on OFDI of developing country: Evidence from China

Mengting Zhang (Economic School of Shanghai University, Shanghai, China)
Changbiao Zhong (School of Business, Yunnan University of Finance and Economics, Yunnan, China)
Feng Yu (School of International Trade and Economics, Central University of Finance and Economics, Beijing, China)

Journal of Chinese Economic and Foreign Trade Studies

ISSN: 1754-4408

Article publication date: 5 June 2017




Although prior research has highlighted the importance of foreign direct investment (FDI) on a country’s internationalization, it has largely focused on developed countries. As a result, the FDI performance of a developing country, which differs fundamentally from that of developed countries in their environment, remains unclear. Under the newly development environment, the traditional FDI theories have been challenged by the increasing investments from emerging and transition economies. The theory system needs a fresh situation’s supplement urgently.


On the basis of a literature review, this paper constructed an empirical model to further study the moderating effects of context-specific factors on the influence of inbound foreign direct investment (IFDI) on outbound foreign direct investment (OFDI). China was chosen as the representation of a developing country, and its data of mutual investments with 125 countries from 2003 to 2014 were used to carry out hypothesis testing.


The analysis and results of this paper suggested: first, for China, the overall influence of IFDI on OFDI is positive. That is to say, IFDI’s positive spillover effect is greater than the negative competition effect. Second, innovational distance’s effect on FDI is complicated. It can either be positive or negative, which calls for further investigation. Third, economic distance negatively affects OFDI and negatively moderates IFDI’s effect on OFDI, especially the export. To some extent, the moderating effect that resulted from the competition effect will reduce overseas investment by extruding some of the local enterprises. Fourth, cultural distance’s effect is closely related to the spillover effect that will positively moderate IFDI’s influence on OFDI.


This paper enriched the international investment theoretical system by adding a mechanism of multiway international investment of a developing country. The research also has a guiding significance for developing countries’ governments in coordinating mutual international investments. Also, these results have important implications for how policymakers promote OFDI and put forward new theoretical avenues for conceptualizing the internationalization process.



Zhang, M., Zhong, C. and Yu, F. (2017), "The role of context-specific factors in IFDI’s influence on OFDI of developing country: Evidence from China", Journal of Chinese Economic and Foreign Trade Studies, Vol. 10 No. 2, pp. 172-187.



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