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Foreign Direct Investments and Regional Specialization in Environmental Technologies

The paper builds on (eco-)innovation geography and international business studies to investigate the effects of MNEs on regional specialisation in green technologies. Combining the OECD-REGPAT and the fDi Markets datasets with respect to 1,050 European NUTS3 regions over the period 2003-2014, we find that MNEs can positively impact on regions’ specialisation in environmental technologies, when their Foreign Direct Investments (FDIs) occur in industries with a green technological footprint. The effect of green FDIs is further reinforced if they involve R&D activities. We also find that the relatedness of environmental technologies to pre-existing regional specialisations exerts a negative moderating effect on the role of green R&D FDIs in shaping patterns of specialisation. In particular, green R&D FDIs have a larger effect in regions whose prior knowledge base is highly unrelated to environmental technologies. This result is consistent with the idea that MNEs inject the host region with external knowledge, which makes the development of green-technologies less place-dependent.

JEL codes: O31, O33, R11, R58

Keywords: green regional specialisation; MNEs; FDIs; environmental innovation.

Published on 6th May 2020
Authors Professor Davide Castellani
Series Reference JHD-2020-01