The Bartlett School of Planning


Marialena Petrakou

Research subject

Thesis title: FDI growth impact and absorptive capacity in Europe – the role of financial markets

Regional impact – Case study: Greece 

Primary supervisor: Professor Nick Phelps
Secondary supervisor: Dr Randolph Bruno
Starting date: October 2013
Projected completion date: October 2017

FDI (foreign direct investment) has been considered by many scholars and policy makers as an effective tool for boosting an economy’s economic growth. However, there have been cases where MNEs engaged into monopolistic practises and were responsible for crowding out effect (local enterprises can’t compete with foreign subsidiaries and thus go out of business). Therefore what remains unanswered is whether FDI generate positive or negative spillovers for the host economy and whether this depends on local conditions.

The research aim of my thesis is to investigate the growth impact of (FDI) on the regions of EU-28 member states and examine if the influence of FDI on the host region’s GDP or productivity, has been positive and significant over the last 10 years. The analysis of this causality has never been studied on the regional level (NUTS III) for the EU member states, especially for the crisis-hit regions of EU. In addition it is going to be examined what is the role of local absorptive capacity as a determinant of FDI impact on growth and it will be hypothesized that the positive effect of FDI on the host country’s growth depends on local conditions such as human capital, R&D expenditure, level of entrepreneurship and the financial system development.  

The academic literature hasn’t dedicated much emphasis on the role of the local financial system development as a significant factor determining the effect of FDI spillovers and due to the role of the financial sector as a channel mechanism of  technology and knowledge, it is worth examining such causality.

Finally the thesis will consist of a case study dedicated to Greece as a crisis hit EU periphery, where it will be tested if the local absorptive capacity of the Greek economy (including institutional capacity), has contributed positively to FDI spillovers the last decade. 


I started my bachelor degree in Athens University of Economics & Business in 2004 in the department of International and European Economic Studies. I graduated in 2009 and then I started my MSc in LSE. The title of my MSc was Local Economic Development and the title of my MSc thesis was “The determinants of FDI in the Greek regions”. In 2010 I graduated from LSE and in 2011 I did a 5 months internship in European Investment Bank in Luxembourg. Afterwards I started working in Credit Suisse (Luxembourg) as a junior account manager in the Corporate Banking department. 

In October 2013 I enrolled in UCL as a part-time PhD candidate in the BSP under the supervision of Nick Phelps. In July 2014 I resigned from Credit Suisse to continue my PhD studies full time. In October 2014 I started working as a Teaching Assistant at the department of SSEES (School of Slavonic and South East European Studies) where I had the chance to teach 4 groups of tutorials in the courses: Emerging Market Economies and International Business. Now I am undergoing my 1st year of PhD studies as full time PhD student and I plan to have my upgrade in October 2015. I speak Greek (native), English (fluent), French (advanced), Spanish (basic) and Turkish (basic). 

Publications and other work


Petrakou, Marialena. “The determinants of foreign direct investment in the Greek regions”. Journal of Urban and Regional Analysis 5.1 (2013): 45-64

Aim: The aim of the study is to understand whether and to what extent the presence of localization economies in the Greek regions, has an impact on FDI locational decisions