OECD Journal: General Papers

  • Discontinued

OECD Journal: General Papers presents a collection of articles on a range of subjects, from the latest OECD research on macroeconomics and economic policies, to work in areas as varied as employment, education, environment, trade, science and technology, development and taxation.  Published as part of the OECD Journal package.


Human capital formation and foreign direct

Investment in developing countries

This article synthesises a selected literature on human capital formation and foreign direct investment (FDI) in developing countries. The aim is to take a bird’s eye view of the complex linkages between the activities of multinational enterprises (MNEs) and policies of host developing countries. In doing so, general trends, best practices and policy experiences are extracted to evaluate the current state of knowledge. The literature indicates that a high level of human capital is no doubt one of the key ingredients for attracting FDI, as well as for host countries to gain maximum benefits from their activities. Most developing countries, however, underinvest in human capital, and the investment that is actually taking place is unevenly distributed across countries and regions that have adopted different human resource development (HRD) policies. To improve human capital formation and thus to attract more FDI would therefore require a more coherent approach that takes host country constraints such as limited budgetary resources into account. One such approach is to provide strong incentives for MNEs and Investment Promotion Agencies (IPAs) to participate in formal education and vocational training even for workers employed by domestic firms. This allows HRD to be flexible and demanddriven. Another policy option is to facilitate human resource development (HRD) for small and medium-sized domestic enterprises which usually do not invest sufficiently in training of employees although these enterprises stand to gain most from education and training. In addition, FDI promotion policies can target high value-added MNEs that are more likely to bring new skills and knowledge to the economy that can be tapped by domestic enterprises. Lastly, it is important that key components of HRD policies, i.e. formal schooling and vocational education and training policies (post-formal schooling), are well coordinated so as to equip students with knowledge and skills that will later be complementary to training opportunities provided in the labour market.


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