The IMF Working Papers series is designed to make IMF staff research available to a wide audience. Almost 300 Working Papers are released each year, covering a wide range of theoretical and analytical topics, including balance of payments, monetary and fiscal issues, global liquidity, and national and international economic developments.
In the literature on exports and investment, most productive firms are seen to invest abroad. In the Helpman et al. (2004) model, costs of transportation play a critical role in the decision about whether to serve foreign customers by exporting, or by producing abroad. We consider the case of tradable services, where the marginal cost of transport is near zero. We argue that in the purchase of services, buyers face uncertainty about product quality, especially when production is located far away. Firm optimisation then leads less productive firms to self-select themselves for FDI. We test this prediction with data from the Indian software industry and find support for it.