Recent research suggests that subnational regions can explain the variation in foreign subsidiary performance. However, most studies either treat subnational regions as a whole or focus on formal institutions at the subnational level. This study examines how general social trust, an important dimension of informal institutions at the subnational level, affects foreign subsidiary performance. In a sample of 17,886 foreign investments in China in 2012, we find that the level of social trust in subnational regions has a positive effect on the performance of foreign subsidiaries, reducing the liability of outsidership faced by foreign subsidiaries. Our results also show that this positive effect is contingent on local embeddedness of the foreign subsidiaries. Our findings highlight the importance of incorporating informal institutions at the subnational level in examining strategies and strategy outcomes.
hierarchical linear modeling
liability of outsidership