Experienced firms act differently than newcomers, yet such differences vary with the context and with the type of experience. This research examines the effects of international experience on multinational enterprises' (MNEs') ownership strategy across a range of developed and developing economies. We distinguish competence-building and partner-selection effects of experience, which vary between general international experience and country-specific experience, and across host contexts. This contextualization of the theoretical arguments suggests that the predicted effects hold in some host countries, but not in others. In support of these arguments, our empirical study of subsidiaries of Taiwanese electronics forms finds that general international experience facilitates wholly owned operations in developed economies in Asia and Europe, while country-specific experience facilitates joint ownership in China. (C) 2008 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.