Canadian Foreign Direct Investment in the United States by Type: Mergers and Acquisitions, Greenfield, Real Estate, Joint Ventures and Investment Increases

By Meyer, Stephen P. | The Canadian Geographer, Winter 2001 | Go to article overview

Canadian Foreign Direct Investment in the United States by Type: Mergers and Acquisitions, Greenfield, Real Estate, Joint Ventures and Investment Increases


Meyer, Stephen P., The Canadian Geographer


Introduction

While the foreign direct investment (FDI) literature is rich with both theory and empirical study, it has been recognized that additional research concerning FDI by type would be desirable. This would allow for consideration of the properties inherent to mergers and acquisitions, greenfield investments, real estate purchases, joint ventures and investment increases. Most studies directed toward comparing the various strategies associated with international market entry have emphasized differences amongst exporting, licensing, various strategic alliances and FDI in general (and less so on the various sub-categories of FDI) (Buckley and Casson 1998). Tse et al. (1997) express similar sentiments regarding the need for more varied research in this area. The authors affirm that almost all `FDI by type' investigations have taken the perspective of direct investment from the United States or from Japan, and that most authors have taken a decidedly aspatial (and firm-specific) approach.

Foreign direct investment in the United States is deemed to occur when a foreign investor controls at least 10 percent of the voting securities of an incorporated business entity or owns at least 10 percent of a real estate property (US Department of Commerce: International Trade Administration, Office of Trade and Economic Analysis 1995). It is assumed that a foreign direct investor's overall intention is to attain control over the subsidiary (and, thus, is enumerated apart from the more passive portfolio form of investment). Commonly, FDI is denoted by rive sub-groups: mergers and acquisitions (M&As), greenfield investments (or the establishment of new business entities), joint ventures (in which a controlled subsidiary has two or more parents -- one at least being foreign), real estate purchases and increases to already existing foreign investments. It is conceivable that discrete spatial, temporal and sectoral trends can be detected by specifically comparing these rive types of foreign direct investments.

With the use of information collected by the United States Department of Commerce, over 2000 detailed records of `FDI by type' (for the years 1977 to 1994) were customized into a data set that, upon further analysis, provides for a comprehensive view of Canadian direct investment by type in the United States. Moreover, by extending Myrdal's (1956) theory of `circular and cumulative causation' and linking these ideas with Dunning's (1980; 1993) `eclectic theory of international production', the degree of correspondence between US areas of influence and Canadian direct investment by type is presented.

It is believed that this study adds to the FDI literature by providing a more encompassing view of FDI by type and also, it is contended, that this investigation adds to the `Canada-specific' component of the FDI literature. While it is certainly true that a number of authors have advanced our understanding of direct investment from Canada (Litvak and Maule 1975; Rugman and McIlveen 1985; Harrington et al. 1986; Rugman 1987; MacPherson and McConnell 1992; Chow 1994; Rao et al. 1994; Knubley et al. 1996), this body of work remains considerably less developed than the literature and empirical analyses inherent to direct investment into Canada (as discussed by Meyer and Green 1996).

A Selection of Studies that Compare FDI by Type

There are many ways that the different categories of FDI can be contrasted. Yet, the most reoccurring approaches have been to explore how M&As, greenfield operations and/or joint ventures compare with regards to: subsidiary performance, technology and resource adoption, the handling of uncertainty (including cultural distance) and, to a lesser degree, accrued spatial patterns.

Nitsch et al. (1996) analyzed the performance of Japanese-controlled subsidiaries in Western Europe and, based on the assessment of 173 managers polled in 1994, round that acquisitions had performance levels that were below that of joint ventures and, particularly, greenfield investments. …

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