The determinants of Western Australia’s foreign investment in China
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The growing economic importance of China with its major economic power in the East Asia region has become a popular host destination for receiving foreign investment from Hong Kong, Korea, and Taiwan. With China’s growth and development, this nation has over time become one of Australia’s main trading partners. As new investment opportunities have emerged, Australian companies, especially from Western Australia have shown interest in the Chinese marketplace. Despite the popular consensus that Australian companies are increasingly investing in China, to date relevant literature examining this notion is limited. Specifically, studies of elements that motivate or deter owners / managers of Australian companies, especially from Western Australia to invest in China are restricted. Consequently, the purpose of this study was to investigate the likely relationships between four independent constructs (1. market size, 2. labour cost, 3. infrastructure, and 4. business ethics) in China and the intensity of foreign investment from Western Australia, and to evaluate if and how these relationships are mediated by personality attributes (i.e., gender), organisational properties (i.e., size), and networking.To empirically investigate the determining factor for undertaking investment in China, this study employed both quantitative and qualitative approaches. The use of the quantitative method positivist approach is deemed as a suitable, partial approach, which assists in determining the statistical relationships between the investigated variables. Moreover, a qualitative approach was used in a complementing context to understand the quantitative results. Given the dynamic business environment in China, the use of a qualitative approach has potential for gaining a more comprehensive understanding of quantitative findings as well as providing rich information for further interpretations.This study was conducted with 43 respondents of Western Australian companies. A salient feature of the study companies is that they either have capabilities to invest or are already investing in mainland China (People’s Republic of China, in this study identified as China). The targeted companies are involved in manufacturing and services industries, such as mining, education, banking, and telecommunication. Although collecting primary data appeared to be a challenge, the data were robust for statistical analysis. In addition, the data were from decision makers of the study companies, which further indicate the richness of the sample.The findings of this study revealed that China’s large market size plays a positive role in attracting investments from WA to China. Similarly, the adequate level of infrastructure and the level of familiarity of business ethics in China tend to somewhat encourage WA investors to conduct business in China. In contrast, China’s cheap labour cost was not the primary driver that motivates WA companies to invest in China. In relation to the mediating effects of personality attributes (e.g., gender), organisational properties (i.e., size), and networking the study findings revealed that networking plays a significant mediating role in the investment decision. However, due to the relatively small sample size, personality attributes and organisational properties were established to provide insufficient analytical rigor in the decision to invest in China by WA companies.The implications for this study may offer insightful information to enrich the understanding of the determinants of Australian foreign investment in general, and in the Chinese marketplace in particular. In addition, by empirically investigating the perceptions of the decision makers of WA companies in relation to their investment decisions in China, the findings of this research may assist foreign companies to undertake better planning of their investment decisions. More specifically, this study may offer additional insight to those companies that are operating or planning to invest in the Chinese marketplace. For example, this study may be particularly useful for international managers or owners, as it may provide some fruitful information to assist a better understanding of the issues that relate to business ethics with Chinese operations. In addition, the phenomenon of guanxi in China has been considered as a major determinant for facilitating business engagement in the Chinese marketplace. It may, therefore, be argued that the phenomenon of guanxi in assisting business operations in China has become increasingly important, and international managers or owners may need to gain a deeper understanding of this phenomenon.
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