Industry agglomeration, sub-national institutions and the profitability of foreign subsidiaries

Xiaoying Li, Yin-Fang Zhang, Laixiang Sun

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This study investigates the impact of industry agglomeration and its interaction with subnational institutions on the profitability of multinational enterprises (MNEs) subsidiaries operating in an emerging economy. We argue that in an emerging economy like China, competition I product and factor markets is more intense between foreign firms than between foreign and domestic firms owning to market segmentation. Consequently, industry agglomeration with other foreign firms has negative impact on the profitability of foreign subsidiaries. In contrast, foreign firms agglomerating with domestic firms may reap gains owing to less competition and improved access to local resources and knowledge. We find that these effects are more pronounced to domestic market-oriented foreign firms. Furthermore, sub-national institutions moderate the relationships between industry agglomeration and the profitability of foreign firms. Our arguments are supported by the empirical analysis based on a comprehensive dataset of foreign firms operating in China over the period from 1999 to 2005.
Original languageEnglish
JournalMIR: Management International Review
Early online date17 Aug 2018
Publication statusPublished - 2018

Research Beacons, Institutes and Platforms

  • Global Development Institute


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