• 26 Nov 2008
  • Working Paper

Spanning the Institutional Abyss: The Intergovernmental Network and the Governance of Foreign Direct Investment

by Juan Alcacer & Paul Ingram

Executive Summary — Economic globalization presents severe governance challenges. The insufficiency of states as a source of surety for transactions that transcend national borders creates an opportunity for an increased role for organizations in the global institutional framework. The authors of this paper applied a network methodology to show how one type of organization, the intergovernmental organization (IGO), facilitates the cross-border investments of another type, the multinational corporation (MNC). They further document the interdependence between domestic institutions, and international institutions represented by IGOs. The results help to understand and explain which countries attract FDI, and from which senders. Results also point to an emerging rivalry between states and organizations as sources of governance in the global economy. Key concepts include:

  • The connections between states through both economic and social/cultural IGOs are positive and important influences on which states receive FDI from which other states.
  • The network forged by international organizations is massively and increasingly influential in domestic and international governance.
  • The interrelationship between domestic and international governance is more complex than previous accounts have recognized.

Author Abstract

Global economic transactions such as foreign direct investment must extend over an institutional abyss between the jurisdiction, and therefore protection, of the states involved. Intergovernmental organizations (IGOs), whose members are states, represent an important attempt to span this abyss. IGOs are mandated variously to smooth economic transactions, facilitate global cooperation, and promote cultural contact and awareness. We use a network approach to demonstrate that the connections between two countries through joint-membership in the same IGOs are associated with a large positive influence on the foreign direct investment that flows between them. Moreover, we show that this effect occurs not only in the case of IGOs that focus on economic issues, but also on those with social and cultural mandates. This demonstrates that relational governance is important and feasible in the global context, and for the most risky transactions. Finally we examine the interdependence between the IGO network and the domestic institutions of states. The interdependence between these global and domestic institutional forms is complex, with target-country democracy being a substitute for economic IGOs, but a complement for social and cultural IGOs.

Paper Information