Article | Organization Science | September–October 2012

Egalitarianism, Cultural Distance, and Foreign Direct Investment: A New Approach

by Jordan I. Siegel, Amir N. Licht and Shalom H. Schwartz

Abstract

This study addresses an apparent impasse in the research on organizations' responses to cultural distance. Using historically motivated instrumental variables, we observe that egalitarianism distance has a negative causal impact on FDI flows. This effect is robust to a broad set of competing accounts, including the effects of other cultural dimensions, various features of the prevailing legal and regulatory regimes, other features of the institutional environment, economic development, and time-invariant unobserved characteristics of origin and host countries. We further show that egalitarianism correlates in a conceptually compatible way with an array of organizational practices pertinent to firms' interactions with non-financial stakeholders, such that national differences in these egalitarianism-related features may affect firms' international expansion decisions.

Keywords: FDI; foreign direct investment; neo-institutionalism; multinational firm; cultural distance; egalitarianism; regulatory arbitrage; Pollution Haven Hypothesis; Foreign Direct Investment; Global Strategy; Culture; Entrepreneurship;

Citation:

Siegel, Jordan I., Amir N. Licht, and Shalom H. Schwartz. "Egalitarianism, Cultural Distance, and Foreign Direct Investment: A New Approach." Organization Science 23, no. 5 (September–October 2012). (This study addresses an apparent impasse in the research on organizations' responses to cultural distance. Using historically motivated instrumental variables, we observe that egalitarianism distance has a negative causal impact on FDI flows. This effect is robust to a broad set of competing accounts, including the effects of other cultural dimensions, various features of the prevailing legal and regulatory regimes, other features of the institutional environment, economic development, and time-invariant unobserved characteristics of origin and host countries. We further show that egalitarianism correlates in a conceptually compatible way with an array of organizational practices pertinent to firms' interactions with non-financial stakeholders, such that national differences in these egalitarianism-related features may affect firms' international expansion decisions.)