Steven Brakman, Harry Garretsen, Charles van Marrewijk, and Arjen van Witteloostuijn

Research on the location choice of foreign direct investment (FDI) focuses on the choice between countries. The within-country location choice is either not analyzed at all or restricted to greenfield investments only. The majority of FDI, however, takes the form of cross-border mergers and acquisitions (M&As). We develop and test a pair of hypotheses regarding location-target selection for both cross-border and national M&As across the United States, expecting differences in line with the liability of foreignness argument. Using a detailed firm-level data set for M&As in the period 1985–2012, we compare location choices of cross-border versus national M&As. We find that cross-border M&As are more spatially concentrated, and tend to sort into larger agglomerations than national M&As. This finding holds both for urban agglomerations in isolation, as well as for agglomerations that take the economic geography of the United States into account.