Sectoral differences in the determinants of the location of foreign direct investment in American manufacturing

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Foreign direct investment in the United States is an integral part of the comepetition among global industrial core regions. Most foreign investment in the U.S. originates in Europe, Canada, and Japan. Acquisition rather than new plant establishment is the favored mode of investment and the interregional supply of potential acquisition candidates constrains foreign investors' locational choices. This paper provides an analysis of the location of foreign employment in 15 disaggregated sectors across U.S. states in 1990. The results show that foreign firms concentrate employment in existing regions of production. Foreign investments in most raw materials processing sectors particularly favor these places. Some decentralization has occurred in several sectors, especially food, paper, chemicals and petroleum, rubber and plastics, stone, clay and glass products, and primary metals. Other significant determinants of location include labor force characteristics and certain regional preferences. No evidence was found in our analysis of disaggregate sectors that foreign investors avoid strong unions more than their domestic counterparts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)201-235
Number of pages35
JournalPapers in Regional Science
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 1996

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Environmental Science (miscellaneous)


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