Chapter 11 Political Violence and Foreign Direct Investment Chapter uri icon


  • The international business literature presents an interesting intellectual puzzle regarding the effect of political instability and political risk on foreign direct investment (FDI). Survey evidence shows that multinational executives take into account political instability in making investment decisions, while econometric studies produce conflicting findings. In this paper, I offer a new theory that explains how political violence, an extreme form of political instability, affects FDI. The new theory differs from previous arguments on three points. First, the theory considers how rational expectations and uncertainty on the part of foreign investors affect the ways in which political violence influences investment behaviors. Second, the new theoretical argument argues for the need to investigate separately the effects of different types of political violence (civil war, interstate war, and transnational terrorism). Third, I consider FDI inflows as resulting from two distinct but related decisions, including the investment location choice and the decision on investment amount, and sort out statistically the separate effects of political violence on these two processes. The empirical analysis of FDI inflows covers about 129 countries from 1976 to 1996. The statistical findings largely support my theoretical expectations. My theory helps reconcile the inconsistent econometric findings on the effect of political instability on FDI flows. 2006 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

author list (cited authors)

  • Li, Q.

citation count

  • 26

complete list of authors

  • Li, Quan

Book Title

  • Regional Economic Integration

publication date

  • January 2006