How the beast became a beauty: the social construction of the economic meaning of foreign direct investment inflows in advanced economies, 1960-2007

Research output: ThesisThesis fully external


Dominant approaches in International Political Economy treat inflows of foreign direct investments (FDI) only as a material fact, a physical flow of capital. The analysis of the perceptions of inward FDI presented in this research, however, reveals that the meaning that policymakers and analysts attribute to FDI inflows goes far beyond that. What is more, the predominant interpretation of the meaning of FDI inflows has changed dramatically over time: While they were perceived primarily as a threat to national economic development from the 1950s to the 1980s, they came to be gradually re-interpreted as a sign of economic success in the 1990s. Focusing on these developments in the major OECD economies, this research aims to make sense of this stunning transformation in the social interpretation of inward FDI and to examine the implications of these ideational evolutions for policy outcomes. To do so, the research adopts a mixed methods research design, which combines quantitative approaches with the insights gained from qualitative historical analysis: After providing a nuanced theoretical discussion of the significance of economic narratives in international economic affairs and a broad overview of the key developments in FDI policies and relevant policy discourses in the six largest advanced economies during the post-war era, the research subjects the theoretical argument to two quantitative tests at large cross-national samples using data from public opinion surveys and general election results; finally, a qualitative comparison of relevant developments in the United Kingdom and France analyses the impact of these ideational changes on FDI policy-making processes in empirical depth.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • London School of Economics and Political Science
  • Chwieroth, Jeffrey, Supervisor, External person
Award date31-Oct-2016
Place of PublicationLondon
Publication statusPublished - 2016
Externally publishedYes

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