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Spillovers from FDI and local networks: The importance of transactional linkages and vertical keiretsu in Japan

Satomi Kimino (Durham University Business School, Durham University, Durham, UK)
Nigel Driffield (Economics and Strategy Group, Aston Business School, Aston University, Birmingham, UK)
David Saal (Economics and Strategy Group, Aston Business School, Aston University, Birmingham, UK)

Multinational Business Review

ISSN: 1525-383X

Article publication date: 15 July 2014

572

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to explore the importance of host country networks and organisation of production in the context of international technology transfer that accompanies foreign direct investment (FDI).

Design/methodology/approach

The empirical analysis is based on unbalanced panel data covering Japanese firms active in two-digit manufacturing sectors over a seven-year period. Given the self-selection problem affecting past sectoral-level studies, using firm-level panel data is a prerequisite to provide robust empirical evidence.

Findings

While Japan is thought of as being a technologically advanced country, the results show that vertical productivity spillovers from FDI occur in Japan, but they are sensitive to technological differences between domestic firms and the idiosyncratic Japanese institutional network. FDI in vertically organised keiretsu sectors generates inter-industry spillovers through backward and forward linkages, while FDI within sectors linked to vertical keiretsu activities adversely affects domestic productivity. Overall, our results suggest that the role of vertical keiretsu is more prevalent than that of horizontal keiretsu.

Originality/value

Japan’s industrial landscape has been dominated by institutional clusters or networks of inter-firm organisations through reciprocated, direct and indirect ties. However, interactions between inward investors and such institutionalised networks in the host economy are seldom explored. The role and characteristics of local business groups, in the form of keiretsu networks, have been investigated to determine the scale and scope of spillovers from inward FDI to Japanese establishments. This conceptualisation depends on the institutional mechanism and the market structure through which host economies absorb and exploit FDI.

Keywords

Citation

Kimino, S., Driffield, N. and Saal, D. (2014), "Spillovers from FDI and local networks: The importance of transactional linkages and vertical keiretsu in Japan", Multinational Business Review, Vol. 22 No. 2, pp. 176-193. https://doi.org/10.1108/MBR-01-2014-0004

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2014, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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