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Multinational corporation

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Multinational corporation

A multinational corporation (MNC) or multinational enterprise[1] is an organization that owns or controls production of goods or services in one or more countries other than their home country.[2] It can also be referred as an international corporation, a "transnational corporation", or a stateless corporation.[3]


  • Overview 1
  • Theoretical background 2
  • Transnational corporations 3
  • Multinational corporations and colonialism 4
  • Criticism of multinationals 5
  • See also 6
  • References 7
  • External links 8


A multinational corporation is usually a large corporation which produces or sells goods or services in various countries.[4]

  • Importing and exporting goods and services
  • Making significant investments in a foreign country
  • Buying and selling licenses in foreign markets
  • Engaging in contract manufacturing—permitting a local manufacturer in a foreign country to produce their products
  • Opening manufacturing facilities or assembly operations in foreign countries

The problem of moral and legal constraints upon the behavior of multinational corporations, given that they are effectively "stateless" actors, is one of several urgent global socioeconomic problems that emerged during the late twentieth century.[5]

One of the first multinational business organizations, the East India Company, arose in 1600.[6] After East India Company, came the Dutch East India Company, founded March 20, 1602, which would become the largest company in the world for nearly 200 years.[7]

Theoretical background

The actions of multinational corporations are strongly supported by economic liberalism and free market system in a globalized international society. According to the economic realist view, individuals act in rational ways to maximize their self-interest and therefore, when individuals act rationally, markets are created and they function best in free market system where there is little government interference. As a result, international wealth is maximized with free exchange of goods and services.[8]

To many economic liberals, multinational corporations are the vanguard of the liberal order.[8] They are the embodiment par excellence of the liberal ideal of an interdependent world economy. They have taken the integration of national economies beyond trade and money to the internationalization of production. For the first time in history, production, marketing, and investment are being organized on a global scale rather than in terms of isolated national economies.[9]

Transnational corporations

A transnational corporation differs from a traditional multinational corporation in that it does not identify itself with one national home. While traditional multinational corporations are national companies with foreign subsidiaries,[10] transnational corporations spread out their operations in many countries to sustain high levels of local responsiveness.[11]

An example of a transnational corporation is Nestlé who employ senior executives from many countries and try to make decisions from a global perspective rather than from one centralized headquarters.[12]

Another example is Royal Dutch Shell, whose headquarters are in The Hague, Netherlands, but whose registered office and main executive body are headquartered in London, United Kingdom.

Multinational corporations and colonialism

The history of multinational corporations is closely intertwined with the history of colonialism, with the first multinational corporations founded to undertake colonial expeditions at the behest of their European monarchical patrons.[13] Prior to the era of New Imperialism, a majority European colonies not held by the Spanish and Portuguese crowns were administered by chartered multinational corporations.[14] Examples of such corporations include the British East India Company,[15] the Swedish Africa Company, and the Hudson’s Bay Company.[16] These early corporations facilitated colonialism by engaging in international trade and exploration, and creating colonial trading posts.[17] Many of these corporations, such as the South Australia Company and the Virginia Company, played a direct role in formal colonization by creating and maintaining settler colonies.[17] Without exception these early corporations created differential economic outcomes between their home country and their colonies via a process of exploiting colonial resources and labour, and investing the resultant profits and net gain in the home country.[18] The end result of this process was the enrichment of the colonizer and the impoverishment of the colonized.[19] Some multinational corporations, such as the Royal African Company, were also responsible for the logistical component of the Atlantic Slave Trade,[20] maintaining the ships and ports required for this vast enterprise. During the 19th century formal corporate rule over colonial holdings largely gave way to state-controlled colonies,[21][22] however corporate control over colonial economic affairs persisted in a majority of colonies.[17][21]

During the process of decolonization the European colonial charter companies were disbanded,[17] with the final colonial corporation, the Mozambique Company, dissolving in 1972. However the economic impact of corporate colonial exploitation has proved to be lasting and far reaching,[23] with some commentators asserting that this impact is among the chief causes of contemporary global income inequality.[19]

Contemporary critics of multinational corporations have charged that some present day multinational corporations follow the pattern of exploitation and differential wealth distribution established by the now defunct colonial charter corporations, particularly with regards to corporations based in the developed world that operate resource extraction enterprises in the developing world,[24] such as Royal Dutch Shell, and Barrick Gold. Some of these critics argue that the operations of multinational corporations in the developing world take place within the broader context of neocolonialism.[25]

Criticism of multinationals

Anti-corporate advocates criticize multinational corporations for entering countries that have low human rights or environmental standards.[26] In the world economy facilitated by multinational corporations, capital will increasingly be able to play workers, communities, and nations off against one another as they demand tax, regulation and wage concessions while threatening to move. In other words, increased mobility of multinational corporations benefit capital while workers and communities lose. Some negative outcomes generated by multinational corporations include increased inequality, unemployment, and wage stagnation.[27]

The aggressive use of

  • Data on transnational corporations
  • UNCTAD publications on multinational corporations

External links

  1. ^ Pitelis, Christos; Roger Sugden (2000). The nature of the transnational firm. Routledge. p. 72.  
  2. ^
  3. ^ Roy D. Voorhees, Emerson L. Seim, and John I. Coppett, "Global Logistics and Stateless Corporations," Transportation Practitioners Journal 59, 2 (Winter 1992): 144-51.
  4. ^ Doob, Christopher M. (2013). Social Inequality and Social Stratification in US Society. Pearson Education Inc. 
  5. ^ Koenig-Archibugi, Mathias (16 January 2004). "Transnational Corporations and Public Accountability" (PDF). Government and Opposition: 106. Retrieved 2 February 2015.  Krugman, Paul (20 March 1997). "In Praise of Cheap Labor: Bad Jobs at Bad Wages Are Better than No Jobs at All". Slate. Retrieved 2 February 2015. 
  6. ^ "GlobalInc. An Atlas of The Multinational Corporation" Medard Gabel & Henry Bruner, New York: The New Press , 2003. ISBN 1-56584-727-X
  7. ^ VOC at the National Library of the Netherlands (in Dutch)
  8. ^ a b Mingst, Karen A. (2014). Essentials of international relations. W. W. Norton & Company. p. 310.  
  9. ^ Gilpin, Robert (1975). Three models of the future. International Organization. p. 39. 
  10. ^ Drucker, Peter F. (1997). The Global Economy and the Nation State (PDF). Council on Foreign Relations. p. 167. 
  11. ^ Case study: The Relationship between the Structure/Strategy of Multinational Corporations and Patterns of Knowledge Sharing within them (PDF). Oxford University Press. 2009. 
  12. ^ Schermerhorn, John R. (2009). Exploring Management. John Wiley and Sons. p. 387.  
  13. ^ Jeffrey, Alex, and Joe Painter. "Imperialism and Postcolonialism." Political Geography: An Introduction to Space and Power. London: SAGE, 2009. 174-75. Print.
  14. ^ Robins, Nick. "This Imperious Company." The Corporation That Changed the World How the East India Company Shaped the Modern Multinational. London: Pluto, 2006. 24-25. Print.
  15. ^ Robins, Nick. The Corporation That Changed the World How the East India Company Shaped the Modern Multinational. London: Pluto, 2006. Print.
  16. ^ Royle, Stephen A. Company, Crown and Colony: The Hudson's Bay Company and Territorial Endeavour in Western Canada. London: I.B. Tauris, 2011. Print.
  17. ^ a b c d Micklethwait, John, and Adrian Wooldridge. 2003. The company: A short history of a revolutionary idea. New York: Modern Library.
  18. ^ Howe, Stephen. "Empire by Sea." Empire: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2002. 77-80. Print.
  19. ^ a b Angeles, Luis. "Income Inequality and Colonialism." European Economic Review 51.5 (2007): 1155-176. Web. .
  20. ^ Howe, Stephen. "Empire by Sea." Empire: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2002. 67. Print.
  21. ^ a b Jeffrey, Alex, and Joe Painter. "Imperialism and Postcolonialism." Political Geography: An Introduction to Space and Power. London: SAGE, 2009. 175. Print.
  22. ^ Robins, Nick. The Corporation That Changed the World How the East India Company Shaped the Modern Multinational. London: Pluto, 2006. 145. Print.
  23. ^ Howe, Stephen. "Empire by Sea." Empire: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2002. 78-83. Print.
  24. ^ Bakan, Joel. The Corporation: The Pathological Pursuit of Profit and Power. New York: Free, 2004. Print.
  25. ^ Azikiwe, Abayomi. "Burkina Faso: Masses Rise Up Against Neo-Colonial Rule." Global Research. Centre for Research on Globalization, 04 Nov. 2014. Web. 07 Feb. 2015.
  26. ^ Marc 'Globalization, Power, and Survival: an Anthropological Perspective', pg 484–486. Anthropological Quarterly Vol.79, No. 3. Institute for Ethnographic Research, 2006
  27. ^  
  28. ^ Library of the European Parliament Corporate tax avoidance by multinational firms
  29. ^ Tax Justice Network Taxing corporations


See also


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