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.
The dynamic pattern of foreign direct investment (FDI) in developing countries shows a three-phase pattern. Despite government policies that promote it, initially the inflow of FDI is sluggish, followed by a period of considerable fluctuation before finally entering the stage of rapid growth. The paper explains the pattern through recourse to two concepts: the searching process of individual investors and the information externalities of investors in the aggregate. Policy implications that may serve to shift an economy of a developing country from small-scale FDI to one of rapidly expanding FDI are considered. As China is a clear example of this pattern, it has been selected to promote understanding of the process.