Sustainability Impacts of Chinese Outward Direct Investment: A review of the literature

This literature review study has been developed in support of the project on Promoting Sustainable Development of Chinese Enterprises for “Going Out,” in order to accelerate the pace of “going out responsibly” as well as to cultivate a group of world-class responsible multinational corporations.

By Simon Zadek, Mark Halle, Yuan Wang, Simon Zadek, Kelly Yu, Samuel Ortiz Velasquez, Lin Zhang, Hanjie Wang on February 9, 2016

Outward direct investment (ODI) by the People’s Republic of China has grown very rapidly since 2004, and in 2014, China’s ODI flows attained USD 123.1 billion.

The past decade has witnessed remarkable growth in Chinese outward investments, and there is a growing number of academic studies, policy papers and media reports discussing the operations and impacts of Chinese companies overseas. This literature review aims to develop a comprehensive understanding of the sustainable impact of Chinese outward investments. The specific objectives of this literature review are:

  1. Providing a balanced view of the current state of knowledge of the sustainable development impact of Chinese ODI.
  2. Providing an overview of the diverse perspectives and concerns relevant to Chinese policy-makers and companies “going out.”
  3. Providing insights into the Chinese policy and business strategy measures that would improve outcomes and address concerns.
  4. Providing direction on further avenues for research and possible future collaboration.

In this review exercise, 384 papers were collected, including 262 in English, 83 in Chinese and 39 in Spanish, based on an inventory of the available research drawing on academic databases, think tanks and international organizations, and a search of non-governmental organizations’ reports, private sector reports and newspaper articles.

Participating experts

Report details

Investment Law & Policy
Sustainable Finance
Focus area
IISD, 2016