GW-CIBER Research Focus

In carrying out our mandate, the GW-CIBER focuses on research, teaching, and outreach in six substantive areas under the unifying theme of Institutions, the State, and Development in International Business.

Focal Areas:

Trade, Investment, and Labor Policy

The progression towards liberalization of trade and investment policies has undoubtedly established a more integrated world economy. However, recent global economic turmoil has put this economic integration at risk. Thus, factors such as economic nationalism, immigration concerns, and greater state involvement, have impacted the performance and strategies of U.S. firms and the opportunities available to American consumers and workers.

This focal area provides a nexus for studying today’s trade, investment, and labor market challenges – particularly those involving key U.S. trading partners from developing countries. The U.S. market is inextricably linked with economies in the developing world through the movement of goods, services, people, and capital. GW-CIBER offers integrated programs to help students, managers, and policy makers find answers to issues such as:

  • How do global trends in trade and investment treaties, trade policy implementation, and visa and immigration policies affect U.S. firms and workers?
  • How do national institutions influence the growth and performance of U.S. firms investing in developing countries?
  • What are the private sector implications of policy initiatives such as economic sanctions, anti dumping actions, standards harmonization, and visa policies?
  • What is the effect of national institutional arrangements (such as financial sector development, unionization, etc) on entrepreneurship and investment in developing countries?

GW-CIBER works to support original research and the incorporation of academic findings in the classroom, while bringing together leading academics, practitioners, and policy makers.

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Firm-State-Society Relations

As relationships among firms, state agencies, and societal actors are transforming, the lines that once separated them are now blurred. Controversy surrounds the appropriate level of state regulation, intervention, ownership, and strength of certain capitalist institutions. The changing international landscape presents challenges for multinational enterprises (MNEs), which must configure effective strategies that meet the expectations of home and host countries.

Some key questions that need studying within this focal area are:

  • How can MNEs effectively navigate the new terrain built by political and societal constituencies in their home and host countries?
  • How can firms and NGOs work with state actors to contribute to economic development and stability of developing countries, making them stronger trading partners and reducing security threats for Americans
  • What is the impact of MNE investment on host country development?
  • What strategies can MNEs use in the face of conflicting pressures from state and societal actors across their various host countries?

GW-CIBER brings together key participants from business, policy, and academic communities to offer workshops, presentations, and dialogues on such crucial issues, and to translate this research into curriculum and teaching innovations.

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Property Rights and Global Innovation

Innovation is at the heart of U.S. economic growth and contributes powerfully to the competitiveness of individual firms. National institutions concerning innovation and property rights affect U.S. firms’ access to resources such as knowledge and human capital. They also help multinational corporations determine the best strategy to use in order to leverage their host countries’ resources and sidestep obstacles due to institutional weaknesses.

The understanding of how IP protection motivates investments in new innovation, and how it encourages or inhibits the diffusion of new designs is at the center of this focal area. GW-CIBER continues to ensure that academic research is made accessible to a broad range of stake-holders on issues that include:

  • How do cross national differences in property right institutions affect firms’ strategies, organizational structures, and performance?
  • How can firms navigate the complexity that results from conflicting property rights policies and enforcement at bilateral and multilateral levels?
  • What is the effect of national technology policies on firms’ innovation strategies?
  • What are the appropriate organizational structures and innovation strategies that multinational corporations can use to safeguard their intellectual property in globally-dispersed operations?

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Natural Resource Scarcity, Security, and Sustainability

The last decade has witnessed unprecedented volatility in resource prices, with the market price of oil, for instance, vaulting from $10 per barrel in the late 1990s to over $100 in 2008, then crashing to nearly $30 in early 2009 before rising again. The implications of such volatility for U.S. firms are broad – changing consumers’ purchase preferences globally, altering the cost-benefit equation in capital investment decisions, and affecting the U.S. market growth and target markets abroad. Such boom and bust cycles also have a major impact on the investment strategy, development planning, and economic growth of resource-importing and resource-exporting developing countries.

U.S. managers and policy-makers are also increasingly concerned about the vulnerability that dependence on foreign energy creates for the home economy, and there have been widespread calls to lower the country’s reliance on fossil fuels. Related questions that arise are:

  • How would policies to encourage renewable energy affect the global investment strategies and competitiveness of U.S. Firms?
  • What approaches are likely to be more successful for encouraging environmentally-sustainable business expansion in developing countries?
  • What approaches are likely to be more successful for encouraging environmentally-sustainable business expansion in developing countries?
  • What are the conditions under which multinational corporations shrink , maintain, or increase their global ‘carbon footprint’ when they expand manufacturing operations overseas?

GW-CIBER’s geographic location provides the center with unique research opportunities to advance practitioner training, education, and research in this focal area.

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Economic, Financial, and Political Crisis

Economic, financial, and political crises are prominent features shaping the world landscape, and they can fundamentally impact trade and investment. Indeed, FDI flows contracted about 49% in the first part of 2009 due in part to the global financial crisis. Financial and economic turmoil harm the growth and stability of U.S. trading partners, contribute to discontent and political conflict, and raise security concerns in the U.S. Likewise, given that about 80% of global terrorist attacks on Americans are on business targets, political crises have direct bearing on financial markets and investment.

Important questions that need to be asked include:

  • How do host governments’ efforts to manage crises impact the location decisions of multinational corporations?
  • How do the crisis management strategies of the IMF and other multilateral organizations affect firms’ investment decisions?
  • What are the effects of MNE strategies on the incidence and severity of crises?
  • What is the impact that multilateral institutions such as the IMF have on the strategies of importers, exporters, and multinational corporations during and after times of crises?

Research on crises would benefit from more inter-disciplinary inquiry. GW-CIBER takes advantage of local resources to offer presentations and workshops for scholars and practitioners in a timely way, while the insights are of greatest value.

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Diaspora Investment and Opportunity

Advances in transportation and communication technology allow U.S. immigrant communities to connect with their homelands in ways unimaginable in the past. The result is the growth of diaspora communities, defined as a group of individuals sharing ethnic identity who live outside of their countries of origin but maintain strong sentimental and material links with their homelands. Such communities help facilitate commerce and encourage FDI by fostering information flows and improving contract enforcement in international transactions.

The growing prominence of Diaspora communities holds key implication for U.S. investors. Diaspora entrepreneurs may enjoy preferential access to homeland markets and engage in business strategies that differ from those described in the traditional International Business (IB) theory. Relevant questions include:

  • How do the obstacles facing diaspora entrepreneurs differ from those facing traditional foreign investors?
  • Does diaspora investment serve as a more stable source of capital than MNE investment, strengthening host countries’ abilities to act as good trading partners?
  • What is the relevance of traditional IB theories for diaspora entrepreneurial investment?
  • How effective are partnership strategies between multinational corporations and diaspora entrepreneurs in facilitating market entry into developing countries?

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