Foreign influence, control, and indirect ownership: Implications for productivity spillovers

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McGaughey, Sara L
Raimondos, Pascalis
la Cour, Lisbeth
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2020
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Abstract

How does the presence of ‘controlled’ foreign firms affect the productivity of domestic firms in the same industry? We revisit the historical distinction between control and influence by the foreign owner and define ‘controlled’ foreign firms as those with a foreign ultimate owner holding 50% or more of voting shares. Connecting insights from new internalization theory with knowledge-based views of the MNE, we posit that ‘controlled’ foreign firms will generate larger productivity spillovers than non-controlled foreign firms. We use a firm-level panel dataset of 575,844 manufacturing firms (2,343,495 observations) across 20 European countries to test our proposition. We pay careful attention to how firms are categorized as foreign, taking into account both direct and indirect ownership links. Allowing for indirect ownership turns out to be pivotal: there are just as many indirectly controlled foreign firms as foreign firms captured with direct ownership data. We find positive horizontal spillovers from controlled foreign firms and zero spillovers from non-controlled foreign firms. Interestingly, the strongest positive spillovers come from the indirectly controlled foreign firms. The implications of our study extend beyond productivity spillovers to areas such as cross-border M&As, joint ventures, MNE strategies of legitimation, and corporate groups.

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Journal of International Business Studies

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This publication has been entered in Griffith Research Online as an advanced online version.

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Strategy, management and organisational behaviour

Applied economics

Social Sciences

Business & Economics

foreign direct investment

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McGaughey, SL; Raimondos, P; la Cour, L, Foreign influence, control, and indirect ownership: Implications for productivity spillovers, Journal of International Business Studies, 2020

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