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30 Years of foreign direct investment to China: An interdisciplinary literature review

  • Ecology
  • Geography


The purpose of this paper is to examine how scholarly research on foreign direct investment (FDI) to the People's Republic of China has evolved and been shaped using bibliometrics analysis of 422 journal articles published in 151 journals between 1979 and 2008 on that topic. The literature is dominated by the fields of Economics, followed by Business and Management, Planning and Development and International Relations, which together account for 95% of all publications. Ten percent of the most productive journals are responsible for 40% of all publications and 63% of all citations received. By means of citation mapping, four main research streams have been identified: (1) the motives and determinants of FDI to China; (2) 'inside' the multinational enterprise (MNE); (3) the impact of MNE activities; and (4) policy implications for the host country. Emerging research streams have been identified as the effects of inward FDI on (i) corporate social responsibility attitudes of domestic and foreign firms, (ii) environmental and climate issues, (iii) the institutional and societal transformation of China, and (iv) the emergence of Chinese MNEs and its impact on the operations of foreign MNEs in China.

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