China

The “Marco Polo” effect: Chinese FDI in Italy

International Journal of Technology and Globalization, 4(4), 277-291 

The article is written with Carlo Pietrobelli and Marco Sanfilippo.

This study investigates the motivations driving Chinese outward direct investment to Italy. The analysis is based on secondary sources and in- depth interviews with key informants and senior managers of Chinese affiliates in Italy. The evolution of the Chinese pattern of entry in Italy confirms the pattern followed by Chinese firms in other European countries, adding some additional interesting results. Starting from small-scale operations in trade-related activities, Chinese FDI have evolved towards the acquisition of tangible and intangible resources that are deemed necessary to improve China’s presence in international markets and to upgrade their technological and production capacities.
Chinese investments in Italy are increasingly targeting the acquisition of technological capabilities and of design skills and brands to tap local competences available in specialized manufacturing clusters in sectors such as automotives and home appliances. The main industries of specialization of Chinese OFDI in Italy reflect this approach and appear to be related to China’s strategy to increase the sophistication of its exports and to move away from standardized commodities and intermediate manufactures and components.