My research addresses a number of topics within the subfield of international political economy. I have mostly done work on foreign direct investment (FDI) in developing countries, asking questions about the policy and institutional determinants of incoming investment. I am interested in both the quantity and quality of FDI, and how host country initiatives affect the operations of multinational corporations. In the past, I have published work on multinational influence over host country policy and I have considered the relationship between labor rights violations and investment risk. My FDI research involves both large-n econometric analysis of investment patterns and case studies of investment policy in diverse economies in Latin America and on the periphery of Europe.
Beyond FDI, I also have ongoing projects on the political determinants of exchange rate regimes. I have future research agendas involving Gulf South trade patterns and historical interpretations of late 19th century monetary politics in the United States.
My current book project examines the relationship between political institutions in developing countries and inflows of innovation-intensive foreign direct investment. Foreign investment, once rare in the developing world, is now an essential ingredient in any country’s growth strategy. Most analyses of FDI in developing countries treat FDI flows and stocks as uniform. However, not all FDI is created equal. Different sectors and firm activities vary widely in their ability to contribute to development processes, and the landscape of global FDI flows is changing. Multinational corporations increasingly locate R&D facilities in developing countries, and competition for innovative FDI is intense. As multinationals seek out global talent and develop ever more complex production chains, developing country governments increasingly seek to attract innovation-intensive forms of investment. What determines whether countries will succeed?
I argue that the policies implemented by developing governments and the investment promotion institutions through which these policies are channeled are crucial for determining the investment profiles of firms. More importantly, I show that adaptive industrial policies which move developing countries to higher value-added activities can be effective even in an era of multinational production. Drawing on large datasets with sector-specific and firm-level investment data, I illuminate the ways in which governments have succeeded and failed in integrating multinational investment into development trajectories. I also include a case study analysis of Ireland, which through the last twenty-five years has managed to attract a great deal of innovation-intensive FDI. The Irish case, while subtle and complex, illustrates how host country policies and institutions can influence both the character of incoming investment and how firm investment profiles change over time.
R&D in the Periphery? Foreign Direct Investment, Innovation, and Institutional Quality in Developing Countries.
Abstract: This paper considers the relationship between assessments of institutional quality in developing countries and the innovative activities of multinational corporations. Firm entry mode literature has established links between domestic institutions and ownership equity patterns among multinationals, but institutionalist analyses have not adequately addressed the types of activities pursued by multinational firms. I argue that in addition to various socioeconomic indicators, the quality of domestic political institutions in developing countries is an important determinant of local innovative activity. I argue that institutional quality in host countries reinforces consistent patterns of interaction between states and firms, leading to reduced risk of technological expropriation and other undesirable outcomes for firms. I test this argument by examining the impact of institutional assessments, carried out by firms themselves and by outside observers, on R&D effort among multinationals, using firm-level surveys conducted in developing countries between 2002 and 2005. The multilevel empirical analysis suggests that multinational firms are likely to both locate R&D activities and pursue them intensively in developing countries with well-regarded institutions, and that the impact of institutional variables is more significant than other likely predictors, such as education levels in host countries.
Postindustrial Transitions: FDI, Informality, and Inequality in Latin America (with Juan Bogliaccini)
Abstract: This paper contributes to the study of the relationship between foreign direct investment (FDI) and inequality in Latin America in two distinct ways. First, it examines the relationship between FDI and the informal sector of the economy, an important and understudied mechanism by which inequality has increased in the region. We hypothesize that specific types of FDI have different effects on the size of the informal sector. Second, in order to assess these relationships we disaggregate inflow data into two sectors that constitute the bulk of the medium to low skilled labor market in the region: manufacturing industry and wholesale and retail. Results provide evidence that manufacturing FDI tends to move labor into the informal sector, in line with the deindustrialization argument. In contrast, we find that FDI in wholesale trade can generate formal employment, albeit at low wage levels and increased instability.
Domestic Institutions and Non-Traditional Foreign Direct Investment in Brazil Since 1995
Abstract: Brazil is an important destination for foreign direct investment (FDI). Yet Brazil has attracted relatively little innovation-intensive and export-oriented investment since liberalization, especially compared with competitors such as China and India. Adopting an institutionalist perspective, this article argues that investment profiles can be partly explained by the characteristics of Brazilian policies and bureaucracies charged with their implementation. With few exceptions, Brazil's investment promotion policies have been passive and non-discriminating since the mid-1990s, and institutions have been weakly coordinated and inconsistent. This has resulted in largely market-seeking forms of investment, and lower potential for developmental spillovers.