Follow the Giver: Is Chinese MNEs' Investment in Africa Linked to Official Aid?

XJ Chen, M Ghorbani, ZZ Xie

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal


Does Chinese aid to African countries trigger Chinese foreign direct investment? Bridging the literature on the impact of foreign aid on foreign direct investment (FDI) and that on state ownership, we consider FDI by China's state-owned enterprises (SOEs) compared with that of its privately owned enterprises (POEs) and find FDI by the former is more likely to follow Chinese governmental aid to Africa. Borrowing from institutional theory, we posit that FDI by SOEs follows political imperatives while FDI by POEs pursues market motives. Using data from multiple sources on 3,760 Chinese FDI projects in Africa between 2001 and 2015, we find a correlation between SOE FDI and government aid than that of POEs; that aid has a greater impact on the probability of FDI when the policies of the host country and those of China are in sync, especially in the case of SOEs; and that in low-investment-risk countries the link between aid and investment is weakened, especially in the case of POEs. The results are robust and consistent across different measures and analyses. We contribute to the literature on the relationship between aid and FDI, as well as to that on varieties of capitalism.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages20
JournalManagement and Organization Review
Publication statusPublished - 13 May 2024


  • Africa
  • China
  • Foreign aid
  • Foreign direct investment
  • Institutional forces
  • Multinational enterprises

Indexed by

  • ABDC-A
  • SSCI


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