The Internationalization Process of Firms: From Exports to FDI

48 Pages Posted: 5 Feb 2013

See all articles by Paola Conconi

Paola Conconi

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR); Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB) - European Center for Advanced Research in Economics and Statistics (ECARES)

André Sapir

Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB) - European Center for Advanced Research in Economics and Statistics (ECARES); Bruegel; Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

Maurizio Zanardi

Lancaster University - Department of Economics

Date Written: February 2013

Abstract

This paper shows that uncertainty can lead firms to follow a gradual internationalization process. We describe a model in which firms are uncertain about their ability to earn profits in a foreign market and must decide whether or not to serve it, and whether to do so through exports or foreign affiliate sales. We show that a firm may first test the foreign market via exports, before engaging in foreign direct investment (FDI). To assess the evidence, we exploit a unique dataset of firm-level exports and FDI in individual destination countries, covering all Belgian companies over the 1998-2008 period. We show that a firm's FDI entry in a foreign market is almost always preceded by its export entry. More uncertain foreign market conditions lead new exporters to delay FDI entry decisions. Our analysis suggests that exports and FDI, although substitutes from a static perspective, may be complements over time, since the knowledge acquired through export experimentation can lead firms to start investing abroad.

Keywords: experimentation, exports, FDI, uncertainty

JEL Classification: D21, F10, F13

Suggested Citation

Conconi, Paola and Sapir, Andre and Zanardi, Maurizio, The Internationalization Process of Firms: From Exports to FDI (February 2013). CEPR Discussion Paper No. DP9332, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2212008

Paola Conconi (Contact Author)

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR) ( email )

London
United Kingdom

Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB) - European Center for Advanced Research in Economics and Statistics (ECARES) ( email )

Ave. Franklin D Roosevelt, 50 - C.P. 114
Brussels, B-1050
Belgium
32 2 650 2345 (Phone)
32 2 650 4475 (Fax)

Andre Sapir

Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB) - European Center for Advanced Research in Economics and Statistics (ECARES) ( email )

Ave. Franklin D Roosevelt, 50 - C.P. 114
Brussels, B-1050
Belgium
+32 2 650 2345/4 (Phone)
+32 2 650 4475 (Fax)

Bruegel ( email )

Rue de la Charité 33
B-1210 Brussels Belgium, 1210
Belgium

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

London
United Kingdom

Maurizio Zanardi

Lancaster University - Department of Economics ( email )

Lancaster LA1 4YX, LA1 4YX
United Kingdom

HOME PAGE: http://www.lancaster.ac.uk/staff/zanardi/

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