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Racing to the bottom or seeking legitimacy? National environmental performance and the location strategies of Chinese MNEs

Ascani, Andrea, Nair, Lakshmi Balachandran and Iammarino, Simona ORCID: 0000-0001-9450-1700 (2023) Racing to the bottom or seeking legitimacy? National environmental performance and the location strategies of Chinese MNEs. Journal of International Management, 29 (2). ISSN 1075-4253

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Identification Number: 10.1016/j.intman.2022.100993

Abstract

This paper studies the extent to which the international location patterns of Chinese MNEs privilege economies with environmentally sustainable practices. We develop a theoretical framework confronting the traditional race-to-the-bottom arguments with the Chinese MNEs' need to gain legitimacy abroad and signal their global citizenship. We also examine a set of conditioning factors pertaining to the heterogeneity of both host countries and firms, to explore potential sources of ethical pluralism in Chinese MNEs' location strategies. Empirically, we study 948 greenfield investments in manufacturing undertaken by Chinese companies in 82 countries over the 2013–2019 period. Our results suggest that Chinese MNEs may feed a downward spiral by favouring locations with fragile ecosystem vitality, that is, a weak sustainable use of natural resources with the consequent erosion of environmental quality. This result is driven by Chinese FDI in developing countries and locations with fragile institutional setting. Furthermore, the attracting force of a degraded environmental situation holds especially for Chinese MNEs operating in most polluting sectors and with private ownership.

Item Type: Article
Official URL: https://www.sciencedirect.com/journal/journal-of-i...
Additional Information: © 2022 The Authors
Divisions: Geography & Environment
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor > HD28 Management. Industrial Management
G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GE Environmental Sciences
H Social Sciences > HG Finance
Date Deposited: 06 Jan 2023 16:09
Last Modified: 27 Feb 2024 21:30
URI: http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/id/eprint/117793

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