With the development of economic globalization and cultural mutual learning, the global network pattern has accelerated and promoted Chinese firms to “go out”. International economic exchanges and cooperation and international cultural exchanges and cooperation affect each other and develop in the same direction. As an important carrier of China’s “bring-in” development strategy, international education exchanges have developed rapidly since entering the 21st century. At present, China has signed intergovernmental education exchange agreements with many countries and regions to support the exchange of students for further study. In this context, it is of great practical significance to study the economic effect of international education exchanges. However, most of the existing literature analyzes China’s international economic and trade exchanges from the perspective of people exchanges and immigration networks, and rarely investigates the motivation and mechanism of overseas mergers and acquisitions (M&A) of Chinese firms from the perspective of international education exchanges.
This paper examines the impact of international education exchanges on overseas M&A activities of Chinese firms, and finds that international education exchanges significantly promote overseas M&A, manifesting as an obvious “lubricant effect”, and mainly through promoting information exchange and improving cultural identity. The heterogeneity test finds that the promotion effect of academic students as the main body is stronger, and the promotion effect of the scholarship policy for academic students is stronger, which shows the economic effect of in-depth information exchange; the promotion role of international students in China from the “Belt and Road” countries is stronger. Further research finds that the expansion of trade scale and the improvement of institutional level strengthen the positive role of international students in China in overseas M&A. The moderating effect shows that international students in China play a role through trade volume, institutional quality, market freedom and economic distance.
This paper makes the following contributions: First, most of previous studies analyze China’s international economic and trade exchanges from the perspective of international students in China, but pay little attention to the role of international education exchanges in overseas M&A. This paper deeply analyzes the “lubricant effect” of international education exchanges on Chinese firms’ “going out”, and examines the motivation and mechanism of overseas M&A from the dimension of international education exchanges, which is an expansion of the previous investment theory. Second, previous studies mainly focus on the impact of immigration networks and people exchanges on China’s OFDI, while ignoring the mechanism of international students in China on overseas M&A. From the theoretical and empirical levels, this paper specifically investigates the impact of international education exchanges with international students in China as the main body on overseas M&A, which is of more practical significance. Third, this paper focuses on the transmission mechanism of international education exchanges with international students in China as the carrier on overseas M&A, which provides a basis for the development of international education exchanges, high-level open economic system and the construction of a community with a shared future for mankind.