In this chapter, we aim to shed more light on the role of formal institutional distance in firms' foreign entry mode choices by accounting for the direction of that distance. Specifically, we distinguish between foreign entries where the host country is institutionally less developed than the investing firm's home country (negative institutional distance) and those where the host country's institutions are comparatively more developed (positive institutional distance), and explore whether these different types of entries are implemented through different equity-based modes. We take an information economics perspective to develop hypotheses on the effects of positive and negative formal institutional distance on firms' choices between greenfields and acquisitions, and between full and partial ownership of greenfield and acquired subsidiaries. We test our hypotheses on a sample of 1,070 foreign entries made by 796 emerging market multinationals originating from 14 countries. Controlling for the host country's formal institutional quality and other factors, we find that negative institutional distance increases the likelihood that a foreign entry takes the form of a greenfield investment rather than an acquisition and that positive institutional distance decreases that likelihood. We also find that negative institutional distance increases the chances that firms choose greenfield joint ventures over wholly owned greenfields and full over partial acquisitions. Finally, we find that positive institutional distance does not affect firms' ownership stake choices, neither for greenfields nor for acquisitions. Overall, these findings argue for a nuanced, contingency view of the role of formal institutional distance in foreign entry mode choices. To the best of our knowledge, this study is the first to use information economics to construct a holistic picture of firms' equity-based entry mode choices, taking into account both establishment and ownership modes.

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Progress in International Business Research
Rotterdam School of Management (RSM), Erasmus University

Mueller, M.J. (Michael J.), Hendriks, G. (Guus), & Slangen, A. (2017). Chapter 12: How the direction of institutional distance influences foreign entry mode choices: An information economics perspective. In Progress in International Business Research. doi:10.1108/S1745-886220170000012020