Does institutional quality matter to Korean outward FDI? A gravity model analysis

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Akhtaruzzaman, Muhammad
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Ngā Upoko Tukutuku (Māori subject headings)
Foreign direct investment
Institutional quality
ANZSRC Field of Research Code (2020)
Akhtaruzzaman, M. (2023). Does institutional quality matter to Korean outward FDI? A gravity model analysis. World Economy Brief, 12(47), 1-13.
Institutional quality is found to be a major determinant in FDI literature in general. It suggests that political risk (lack of/poor institutional quality) not only deters FDI inflows to host countries but also can lead FDI to countries with higher risks and to ‘pollution heaven’ which might have an adverse impact on long term growth and development in both host and home countries. There are strong empirical evidences in literature that lack of institutional quality or good governance is associated with lower FDI inflows. An extensive literature (Alfaro et al. 2008; Ali et al. 2010; Akhtaruzzaman et al. 2017; Bénassy‐Quéré et al. 2007) investigated FDI response to various types of institutional quality in FDI host countries. Over the last 20 years data evidenced that Korea’s OFDI flowed to developing countries with a sustained large gap existing in institutional quality between host countries and Korea (See, Fig 2 top panel); however; those countries had been offering a higher degree of capital account openness. A sharp increase in capital account openness since the early 2000s coincides with sharp increase in Korea’s OFDI to those host countries. For example, Peru was the least open economy and started to initiate measures to open capital account since the mid-90s and early 2000s. The degree of openness in Peru is now similar to that of developed countries. On the other hand, Peru is one of the least progressed countries in terms of institutional quality over the same period of time. This slow or no progress in institutional quality is a common pattern of institutional improvement for a large sample of host countries of Korea’s OFDI (see, Figure 2). However, those developing countries including Peru are regular destinations of a substantial amount of Korea’s OFDI. Does this suggest that institutional quality of host country does not matter to Korean investors, or is there a 3rd factor mitigating the impact of institutional quality on Korea’s OFDI? Few studies on Korea’s OFDI considered institutional quality of host country as a control variable instead of main determinant of FDI (Park and Jung 2020). However, existing studies do not explain why Korea’s OFDI flowed to countries with a large gap in institutional quality between Korea and host countries. This research fills the gap in the literature of Korea’s OFDI. The findings of this research suggest that high degree of capital account openness (a factor that ensures profit repatriation of investors) weakened the negative impact of poor institutional quality in host countries on Korea’s OFDI.
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