Daniel, I. J. (2022). Conventional Wisdom Overturned: Chinese FDI and the Question of Trust. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.14418/wes01.1.2529
This thesis seeks to determine if Chinese FDI has a causal effect on Africans’ trust in, and engagement with, their local government. I present the theories of norms transmission and socialization, which I test through a mixed methods approach that combines a spatial difference-in-differences statistical analysis with an illustrative case study of Chinese investment in South Africa. I find that China invests in locations across Africa where citizens have low levels of trust in, and engagement with, their local governments and officials. However, Chinese investment is not the cause of these reduced levels of trust and engagement, rather, Chinese investors appear to be selecting places to invest where Africans have pre-existing low levels of trust in, and engagement with, local governments. This is an important original finding with profound implications for our understanding of the role of foreign direct investment in economic development as well as social justice and governance in Africa.