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Dr. Gunnar Leymann

Research Assistant


Enrique-Schmidt-Straße 1
28359 Bremen
WiWi1 – Building, Room A3180

Phone: +49 (0)421 218-66553

Office Hours:


• Policy Issues, spec. FDI Screening
• Institutionalism
• Economic Theory of the MNE


“Institutions matter” has become a commonly heard expression in the field of International Business. However, there are still foundational questions as to how exactly institutions affect - and are affected by - multinational enterprises (Aguilera & Grøgaard, 2019). Institutions can be seen as the ‘humanly devised constraints that structure political, economic, and social interaction‘ (North, 1991), including formal laws and regulations as well as informal norms and values. In the past twenty years, significant attention was devoted to understanding the effect of institutions on transactional efficiency in economic exchange at multiple levels of analysis. Concepts such as institutional quality and institutional distance have gained a strong foothold but were equally criticized for ignoring the underlying complexity of institutions (Jackson and Deeg, 2008). Scholars have called for a “thicker” account of institutions as enabled by qualitative and historical research designs. It is my aim to also “thicken” the quantitative approach to institutions in two core areas: dynamism and diversity.

Aguilera, R.V. & Grøgaard, B. 2019. The dubious role of institutions in international business: A road forward. Journal of International Business Studies, 50(20).

Jackson, G., & Deeg, R. 2008. Comparing capitalisms: Understanding institutional diversity and its implications for international business. Journal of International Business Studies, 39(4): pp. 540–561.

North, Douglass C. 1991. Institutions. Journal of Economic Perspectives, 5(1): pp. 97-112.


Education and Academic Positions

2014 -


University of Bremen, Bremen, Germany

Research Assistant/PhD Student

2012 -


University of Bremen, Bremen, Germany

M.Sc. in Business Studies at University of Bremen

2009 -


University of Bremen, Bremen, Germany

B.Sc. in Business Studies at University of Bremen


Focus 1: Institutional Dynamism & Diversity

My current research on the dynamism of institutions is concerned with systematic differences in institutional stability across countries. Therefore, I question if the characteristics of the process of institutional change, e.g., its intensity, volatility and persistence, influence the entry decision of multinational enterprises (MNEs). This requires a different perspective on existing data with a focus on its dynamic components, thereby “thickening” the quantitative description of institutional environments.

The second research area is the diversity of national institutional systems. Different degrees of diversity are intrinsic to the operation of institutions, since they generate regularity and, at the same time, enable strategic agency. Thus, any behavioral regulation of institutions occurs as a stochastic process, necessarily leading to different degrees of diversity in a population. Taken to the level of nation states, the Varieties of Capitalism approach identifies multiple stable configurations of national capitalisms, even if other theories have predicted a convergence of institutional configurations due to the spreading of global markets (Hall and Soskice, 2001). Currently, I explore if MNEs are attracted mainly to countries with specific core institutions or if diversity can be a locational attractor in itself. The latter could mean that the activity of MNEs is stabilizing national institutional diversity, while the former might translate into a gradual shift of national institutions to accommodate long-term international capital flows. Working with institutional configurations as (quantitative) expressions of diversity requires the application of alternative methods such as qualitative comparative analysis.

Hall, P. A., & Soskice, D. W. 2001. Varieties of capitalism: The institutional foundations of comparative advantage. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Focus 2: Institutions & the Theory of the MNE

The theory of the multinational enterprise (MNE) has two foundational pillars that could be traced back as far as to Adam Smith’s contributions on the division of labor and intra-industry competition.One of the pillars, the contractual approach (Dunning, 2003), is mainly concerned with the efficiency of the firm’s division of labor, in terms of both materials flows and information flows (Casson, 1995). Consequently, MNEs are the result of an internalization of costly materials and information flows across borders with the goal of cost minimization. The second pillar, the value-added approach (Dunning, 2003), focuses on the competitive survivability of firms through efficient and differentiated production (Tolentino, 2001). Hence, MNEs are the result of profit seeking through the application of superior capabilities that result in potential monopolistic advantages. There have been calls to synthesize both views under an evolutionary umbrella (Foss, 1996; Dunning & Lundan, 2008). However, the pillars both lack an explanation of dynamics since the market is either seen as a (quasi-static) structure of transaction costs or as a structure of monopolistic market power. Moreover, while the value-added approach offers quite a different perspective on MNE activity than the contractual approach, it shares significant commonalities in seeing institutions as arbiters of exchange.

My research in this area aims to take a dynamic understanding of competition as its starting point to understand the role of institutions in MNE activity. For example, multinational oligopolists are operating under competitive dynamics that may cause fundamental uncertainties and, thus, require social institutions for strategic decisions, including cross-border investments. This view also suggests that institutions affect not only transaction costs but costs of labor and innovation as well as the appropriability of profits.

Casson, M. 1995. Enterprise and Competitiveness. Oxford University Press.

Dunning, J. H., & Lundan, S. M. 2008. Multinational enterprises and the global economy. Edward Elgar Publishing.

Dunning, J. H. 2003. Some antecedents of internalization theory. Journal of International Business Studies, 34(2), pp. 108-115.

Foss, N. J. 1996. Capabilities and the Theory of the Firm. Revue d'économie industrielle, 77(3): pp. 7-28.

Tolentino, P. E. 2001. From a theory to a paradigm: Examining the eclectic paradigm as a framework in international economics. International Journal of the Economics of Business, 8(2), pp. 191-209.