PurposeDespite decades of research, the relationship between intellectual property rights (IPRs) and foreign direct investment (FDI) remains ambiguous. Using a recently developed patent enforcement index (along with a broader IPR index) and a large sectoral country-to-country FDI dataset, the authors revisit the FDI-IPR relationship by testing the impact of IPRs on UK and US outward FDI (OFDI) flows as well as earnings from outward FDI (EOFDI).Design/methodology/approachThe authors use disaggregated data for up to 9 distinct sectors of economic activity from both the US and UK for OFDI flows and EOFDI, for a panel of up to 42 developed and developing countries over sample periods from 1998 to 2015. The authors employ a panel fixed effects (FE) approach that allows exploiting the longitudinal properties of the data using Driscoll and Kraay's (1998) nonparametric covariance matrix estimator.FindingsThe authors do not find any consistent evidence in support of the hypothesis that countries' strength of IPR protection or enforcement affects inward FDI, or that sector of investment matters. The results prove robust to sensitivity checks that include an alternative broader measure of IPR strength, analyses across sub-samples disaggregated according to the strength of countries' IPRs as well as developing vs developed economies and an extended specification accounting for dynamic effects of the response of FDI to both previous investment levels and IPR (patent) protection.Originality/valueThe authors make use of the largest most granular sectoral country-to-country FDI dataset employed to date in the analysis of the FDI-IPR nexus with disaggregated data for OFDI and EOFDI across up to 9 distinct sectors of economic activity from both the US and UK The authors employ a more sophisticated measure of IPR strength, the patent index proposed by Papageorgiadis et al. (2014), which places emphasis on the effectiveness of enforcement practices as perceived by managers, together with the overall administrative effectiveness and efficiency of the national patent system.
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- Intellectual property rights
- Foreign direct investment