Foreign Direct Investment as a Catalyst for Domestic Firm Development: The Case of Sri Lanka

Palitha Konara, Yingqi Wei

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


Foreign direct investment (FDI) carried out by multinational enterprises (MNEs) is recognized as a mechanism through which domestic firms can learn and improve competitiveness. Different from the extant literature which tends to focus on the aggregate effects of FDI in Sri Lanka, we investigate the role of FDI for domestic firm development at the firm level. Using World Bank Enterprise Survey data supplemented by industry data, preliminary investigation reveals that, compared to domestic firms, MNEs are larger, more productive, more profitable, and more active in R&D. MNEs hire higher proportion of skilled workers and undertake more in-house training programs. They are also more export-oriented but rely more on inputs of foreign origin. The gaps between foreign and domestic firms indicate the potential that Sri Lankan firms can learn from MNEs/FDI. The econometric study on firm-level productivity indicates positive direct effects and negative spillover effects of FDI on domestic firms. The findings have important policy implications.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-32
Number of pages32
JournalTransnational Corporations
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2016


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