What Is A Greenfield Investment?

Greenfield investments are those where a company establishes a new subsidiary on foreign soil by investing in new facilities such as offices, factories, staff accommodation, and distribution hubs. They are named after the notion that a company launching a new venture from scratch starts with nothing but a green field. A greenfield investment, therefore, is a form of foreign direct investment where a company establishes operations in another country by constructing new facilities from scratch.

Greenfield investment examples

Greenfield investments differ from brownfield investments, where the company purchases or leases existing infrastructure for the same expansionary purpose.

The strategy is commonly employed by companies who desire more control over their operations and want to avoid the extra costs associated with intermediaries.

In this section, let’s take a look at some real-world examples:

Toyota Motor Corporation

In 2015, Toyota announced it would be building a new production facility in the Mexican state of Guanajuato.

The factory, which would produce the Corolla mid-size sedan, was slated to cost around $1 billion.


South Korean auto manufacturer Hyundai made a similar commitment in 2006 when it received approval to build a factory in the Czech Republic.

The factory opened three years later with an initial capacity of 200,000 vehicles per year, with the Czech government providing incentives to attract Hyundai to lower unemployment and stimulate economic activity in the country.


In 2021, American outdoor cooking innovation and technology company Weber opened its first manufacturing and distribution hub in southern Poland.

The 50,000 square meter facility allows the company to produce high-quality barbecue products for the European market and improve its delivery and service speed in the process.

Advantages of greenfield investments


As noted earlier, greenfield investments tend to be associated with more control since the company can build its infrastructure to spec without the need to adapt or retrofit.

This also the company more control over the quality of its products.

Brand reputation

In some cases, a company that commits to establishing a presence in another country and recruits local expertise will enjoy a superior brand reputation.

It may also be able to profit from stronger local networks and partnerships.

Economic benefits

Greenfield investments also come with several economic benefits.

Companies sometimes receive incentivization from governments in the form of tax breaks and subsidies and may be able to bypass trade restrictions and import tariffs.

Disadvantages of greenfield investments

Capital expenditure

Capital expenditure or capital expense represents the money spent toward things that can be classified as fixed asset, with a longer term value. As such they will be recorded under non-current assets, on the balance sheet, and they will be amortized over the years. The reduced value on the balance sheet is expensed through the profit and loss.

Greenfield investments require vast sums of money which exposes the company to more risk should the project become unviable for whatever reason.

If nothing else, the capital expenditure required is a substantial barrier to entry.

Political risk

While a government may initially be supportive of greenfield investment, this can change after an election if a new government takes power and is less supportive of international companies operating within its jurisdiction.


Some countries will also require that the foreign company use domestically manufactured components or services to support their operations.

Others will require that a certain percentage of the workforce be comprised of local employees.

These requirements can make a greenfield investment problematic for companies that must control every aspect of the process to maintain exacting standards.

Greenfield investment vs. joint venture

Where a greenfield investment is a form of foreign direct investment where a company establishes operations in another country by constructing new facilities from scratch.

A joint venture is a form of strategic alliance where two parent companies come together to form a child company with shared resources and equity in a binding agreement.

Strategic alliances occur when two or more businesses work together to create a win-win situation.  A strategic alliance describes cooperation between two or more organizations to achieve a result a single party could not achieve alone.

Joint ventures have a clear objective, with profits split equally between each party.

A joint venture might also comprise the construction of a massive operation in a foreign country but it doesn’t necessarily need to be structured in that way.

Greenfield investment vs. brownfield investment

A brownfield investment normally occurs when an organization wants to begin operating in a new country without incurring the expensive start-up costs associated with a greenfield investment. For the purposes of this article, a greenfield investment is one where a new production facility is constructed from scratch.  A brownfield investment is the lease or purchase of a pre-existing production facility in a foreign country.

Where a greenfield investment implies a heavy operation, in a brownfield investment, quite the opposite, the company tries to avoid too high start-up costs, thus purchasing pre-existing facilities or operations to kick off the business.

Greenfield investment vs. franchaining

Another interesting difference is between greenfield investment and what we labeled as a franchained operation, which is a form of expansion strategy built by Coca-Cola.

In a franchained business model (a short-term chain, long-term franchise) model, the company deliberately launched its operations by keeping tight ownership on the main assets, while those are established, thus choosing a chain model. Once operations are running and established, the company divests its ownership and opts instead for a franchising model.

The Coca-Cola system works as a short-term chain, where the company does structure heavy operations early on, similar to what happens in a greenfield investment.

Yet, in the long run, it transitions toward a light operational model, where the operations on the ground are run by a franchisee partner that though is tied to Coca-Cola.

Key takeaways

  • A greenfield investment is a form of foreign direct investment where a company establishes operations in another country by constructing new facilities from scratch.
  • Real-world examples of greenfield investment include Toyota in Mexico, Hyundai in the Czech Republic, and Weber in Poland.
  • Greenfield investments can afford the company more control over its foreign operations and grant access to various financial incentives. However, the significant capital expenditure represents a substantial barrier to entry and can make the company more vulnerable to a change in government or regulations.

What are greenfield investments examples?

Greenfield investment examples comprise:

What are the advantages of greenfield investments?

The advantages of greenfield investments comprise:

What are the disadvantages of greenfield investments?

The disadvantages of greenfield investments comprise:

Connected Economic Concepts

Market Economy

The idea of a market economy first came from classical economists, including David Ricardo, Jean-Baptiste Say, and Adam Smith. All three of these economists were advocates for a free market. They argued that the “invisible hand” of market incentives and profit motives were more efficient in guiding economic decisions to prosperity than strict government planning.

Positive and Normative Economics

Positive economics is concerned with describing and explaining economic phenomena; it is based on facts and empirical evidence. Normative economics, on the other hand, is concerned with making judgments about what “should be” done. It contains value judgments and recommendations about how the economy should be.


When there is an increased price of goods and services over a long period, it is called inflation. In these times, currency shows less potential to buy products and services. Thus, general prices of goods and services increase. Consequently, decreases in the purchasing power of currency is called inflation. 

Asymmetric Information

Asymmetric information as a concept has probably existed for thousands of years, but it became mainstream in 2001 after Michael Spence, George Akerlof, and Joseph Stiglitz won the Nobel Prize in Economics for their work on information asymmetry in capital markets. Asymmetric information, otherwise known as information asymmetry, occurs when one party in a business transaction has access to more information than the other party.


Autarky comes from the Greek words autos (self)and arkein (to suffice) and in essence, describes a general state of self-sufficiency. However, the term is most commonly used to describe the economic system of a nation that can operate without support from the economic systems of other nations. Autarky, therefore, is an economic system characterized by self-sufficiency and limited trade with international partners.

Demand-Side Economics

Demand side economics refers to a belief that economic growth and full employment are driven by the demand for products and services.

Supply-Side Economics

Supply side economics is a macroeconomic theory that posits that production or supply is the main driver of economic growth.

Creative Destruction

Creative destruction was first described by Austrian economist Joseph Schumpeter in 1942, who suggested that capital was never stationary and constantly evolving. To describe this process, Schumpeter defined creative destruction as the “process of industrial mutation that incessantly revolutionizes the economic structure from within, incessantly destroying the old one, incessantly creating a new one.” Therefore, creative destruction is the replacing of long-standing practices or procedures with more innovative, disruptive practices in capitalist markets.

Happiness Economics

Happiness economics seeks to relate economic decisions to wider measures of individual welfare than traditional measures which focus on income and wealth. Happiness economics, therefore, is the formal study of the relationship between individual satisfaction, employment, and wealth.


An oligopsony is a market form characterized by the presence of only a small number of buyers. These buyers have market power and can lower the price of a good or service because of a lack of competition. In other words, the seller loses its bargaining power because it is unable to find a buyer outside of the oligopsony that is willing to pay a better price.

Animal Spirits

The term “animal spirits” is derived from the Latin spiritus animalis, loosely translated as “the breath that awakens the human mind”. As far back as 300 B.C., animal spirits were used to explain psychological phenomena such as hysterias and manias. Animal spirits also appeared in literature where they exemplified qualities such as exuberance, gaiety, and courage.  Thus, the term “animal spirits” is used to describe how people arrive at financial decisions during periods of economic stress or uncertainty.

State Capitalism

State capitalism is an economic system where business and commercial activity is controlled by the state through state-owned enterprises. In a state capitalist environment, the government is the principal actor. It takes an active role in the formation, regulation, and subsidization of businesses to divert capital to state-appointed bureaucrats. In effect, the government uses capital to further its political ambitions or strengthen its leverage on the international stage.

Boom And Bust Cycle

The boom and bust cycle describes the alternating periods of economic growth and decline common in many capitalist economies. The boom and bust cycle is a phrase used to describe the fluctuations in an economy in which there is persistent expansion and contraction. Expansion is associated with prosperity, while the contraction is associated with either a recession or a depression.

Paradox of Thrift

The paradox of thrift was popularised by British economist John Maynard Keynes and is a central component of Keynesian economics. Proponents of Keynesian economics believe the proper response to a recession is more spending, more risk-taking, and less saving. They also believe that spending, otherwise known as consumption, drives economic growth. The paradox of thrift, therefore, is an economic theory arguing that personal savings are a net drag on the economy during a recession.

Circular Flow Model

In simplistic terms, the circular flow model describes the mutually beneficial exchange of money between the two most vital parts of an economy: households, firms and how money moves between them. The circular flow model describes money as it moves through various aspects of society in a cyclical process.

Trade Deficit

Trade deficits occur when a country’s imports outweigh its exports over a specific period. Experts also refer to this as a negative balance of trade. Most of the time, trade balances are calculated based on a variety of different categories.

Market Types

A market type is a way a given group of consumers and producers interact, based on the context determined by the readiness of consumers to understand the product, the complexity of the product; how big is the existing market and how much it can potentially expand in the future.

Rational Choice Theory

Rational choice theory states that an individual uses rational calculations to make rational choices that are most in line with their personal preferences. Rational choice theory refers to a set of guidelines that explain economic and social behavior. The theory has two underlying assumptions, which are completeness (individuals have access to a set of alternatives among they can equally choose) and transitivity.

Conflict Theory

Conflict theory argues that due to competition for limited resources, society is in a perpetual state of conflict.

Peer-to-Peer Economy

The peer-to-peer (P2P) economy is one where buyers and sellers interact directly without the need for an intermediary third party or other business. The peer-to-peer economy is a business model where two individuals buy and sell products and services directly. In a peer-to-peer company, the seller has the ability to create the product or offer the service themselves.


The term “knowledge economy” was first coined in the 1960s by Peter Drucker. The management consultant used the term to describe a shift from traditional economies, where there was a reliance on unskilled labor and primary production, to economies reliant on service industries and jobs requiring more thinking and data analysis. The knowledge economy is a system of consumption and production based on knowledge-intensive activities that contribute to scientific and technical innovation.

Command Economy

In a command economy, the government controls the economy through various commands, laws, and national goals which are used to coordinate complex social and economic systems. In other words, a social or political hierarchy determines what is produced, how it is produced, and how it is distributed. Therefore, the command economy is one in which the government controls all major aspects of the economy and economic production.

Labor Unions

How do you protect your rights as a worker? Who is there to help defend you against unfair and unjust work conditions? Both of these questions have an answer, and it’s a solution that many are familiar with. The answer is a labor union. From construction to teaching, there are labor unions out there for just about any field of work.

Bottom of The Pyramid

The bottom of the pyramid is a term describing the largest and poorest global socio-economic group. Franklin D. Roosevelt first used the bottom of the pyramid (BOP) in a 1932 public address during the Great Depression. Roosevelt noted that – when talking about the ‘forgotten man:’ “these unhappy times call for the building of plans that rest upon the forgotten, the unorganized but the indispensable units of economic power.. that build from the bottom up and not from the top down, that put their faith once more in the forgotten man at the bottom of the economic pyramid.”


Glocalization is a portmanteau of the words “globalization” and “localization.” It is a concept that describes a globally developed and distributed product or service that is also adjusted to be suitable for sale in the local market. With the rise of the digital economy, brands now can go global by building a local footprint.

Market Fragmentation

Market fragmentation is most commonly seen in growing markets, which fragment and break away from the parent market to become self-sustaining markets with different products and services. Market fragmentation is a concept suggesting that all markets are diverse and fragment into distinct customer groups over time.

L-Shaped Recovery

The L-shaped recovery refers to an economy that declines steeply and then flatlines with weak or no growth. On a graph plotting GDP against time, this precipitous fall combined with a long period of stagnation looks like the letter “L”. The L-shaped recovery is sometimes called an L-shaped recession because the economy does not return to trend line growth.  The L-shaped recovery, therefore, is a recession shape used by economists to describe different types of recessions and their subsequent recoveries. In an L-shaped recovery, the economy is characterized by a severe recession with high unemployment and near-zero economic growth.

Comparative Advantage

Comparative advantage was first described by political economist David Ricardo in his book Principles of Political Economy and Taxation. Ricardo used his theory to argue against Great Britain’s protectionist laws which restricted the import of wheat from 1815 to 1846.  Comparative advantage occurs when a country can produce a good or service for a lower opportunity cost than another country.

Easterlin Paradox

The Easterlin paradox was first described by then professor of economics at the University of Pennsylvania Richard Easterlin. In the 1970s, Easterlin found that despite the American economy experiencing growth over the previous few decades, the average level of happiness seen in American citizens remained the same. He called this the Easterlin paradox, where income and happiness correlate with each other until a certain point is reached after at least ten years or so. After this point, income and happiness levels are not significantly related. The Easterlin paradox states that happiness is positively correlated with income, but only to a certain extent.

Economies of Scale

In Economics, Economies of Scale is a theory for which, as companies grow, they gain cost advantages. More precisely, companies manage to benefit from these cost advantages as they grow, due to increased efficiency in production. Thus, as companies scale and increase production, a subsequent decrease in the costs associated with it will help the organization scale further.

Diseconomies of Scale

In Economics, a Diseconomy of Scale happens when a company has grown so large that its costs per unit will start to increase. Thus, losing the benefits of scale. That can happen due to several factors arising as a company scales. From coordination issues to management inefficiencies and lack of proper communication flows.

Economies of Scope

An economy of scope means that the production of one good reduces the cost of producing some other related good. This means the unit cost to produce a product will decline as the variety of manufactured products increases. Importantly, the manufactured products must be related in some way.

Price Sensitivity

Price sensitivity can be explained using the price elasticity of demand, a concept in economics that measures the variation in product demand as the price of the product itself varies. In consumer behavior, price sensitivity describes and measures fluctuations in product demand as the price of that product changes.

Network Effects

In a negative network effect as the network grows in usage or scale, the value of the platform might shrink. In platform business models network effects help the platform become more valuable for the next user joining. In negative network effects (congestion or pollution) reduce the value of the platform for the next user joining. 

Negative Network Effects

In a negative network effect as the network grows in usage or scale, the value of the platform might shrink. In platform business models network effects help the platform become more valuable for the next user joining. In negative network effects (congestion or pollution) reduce the value of the platform for the next user joining. 

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