International business researchers have always been interested in the motivations for foreign direct investments. Pre-eminent IB scholar John Dunning argued that there were four core drivers:
– the quest for more customers (market-seeking)
– gaining access to inputs unavailable, or less palatable, at home (resource-seeking)
– looking to build a more efficient chain of value adding activities (efficiency-seeking)
– building up the knowledge-based resources of the firm and portfolio of brands (strategic-asset-seeking).
This recent Economist article gives a nice catalogue of recent international acquisitions by Indian firms, and offers decent examples of several fronts.
The acquisitions mentioned by Avantha (in engineering), Tata Steel and Tata Motors all can be lumped under the strategic-asset-seeking banner, as the firms sought to tap into technologies and brands unavailable in their home market and which are crucial to further international growth. This is comparable to Lenovo’s purchase of IBM’s PC business a few years back (and pretty typical for emerging market multinationals).
What is less clear in terms of motivation is what is driving Bharti Airtel’s pursuit of South African mobile giant MTN.
Are they chasing MTN’s (admittedly outstanding) competencies in rolling out networks in very poor countries (in terms of household incomes and also physical infrastructure)? These may well mesh in very well with Bharti’s own experiences in India, and set the firm up for a huge play in markets across the developing world (i.e. a strategic-asset-seeking approach).
Or they simply chasing the almost billion possible customers in Africa (to throw on top of a similar top of comparable target market in India)? This would clearly be market-seeking FDI…
Tags: Avantha, Bharti Airtel, business, Economist, finance, foreign direct investment, India, International business, Internationalisation, John Dunning, Lenovo, mergers and acquisitions, MTN, multinationals, Tata, Tata Motors, Tata Steel