This paper examines the role of contracting institutions on a multinational firm's optimal ownership strategy. We develop a model in which both a multinational firm and its local joint venture partner can ex post engage in costly rent-seeking actions to increase their ex ante agreed upon revenue share. We show that the host country's level of contract enforcement and level of judicial favoritism affect the parties' incentives to contribute to the international joint venture. The model allows us to identify testable hypotheses relating these institutional features with the performance and optimal ownership structure of international joint ventures.

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