Multinationals and Global Capitalism: From the Nineteenth to the Twenty-First Century

Multinationals and Global Capitalism: From the Nineteenth to the Twenty-First Century

Multinationals and Global Capitalism: From the Nineteenth to the Twenty-First Century

Multinationals and Global Capitalism: From the Nineteenth to the Twenty-First Century


This book provides an essential historical framework for understanding global business. The author shows how entrepreneurs built a global economy in the nineteenth century by creating firms that pursued resources and markets across borders. It demonstrates how firms shifted strategies as thefirst global economy disintegrated in the political and economic chaos between the two world wars, and how they have driven the creation of the contemporary global economy. Many of the issues of the global economy have been encountered in the past. This book reveals how entrepreneurs and managers met the political, ethical, cultural, and organizational challenges of operating across borders at different times and in different environments. The role of multinationals isplaced within their wider political and economic context. There are chapters on the impact of multinationals, and on relations with governments. The focus on the shifting roles of firms and industries over time provides compelling evidence on the diversity and discontinuities of the globalization process. The book explores the history of multinationals across a wide spectrum of manufacturing, service and natural resource industries. Byproviding an accessible survey of the history of international business worldwide, this book will be key reading for students taking courses in International Business, Business History, and Entrepreneurship; and of interest to academics and researchers working in these areas.


This book examines the role of entrepreneurs and firms in the creation of the global economy over the last two centuries. It is a radically revised edition of my The Evolution of International Business, published in 1996, which has remained the only history of the development and impact of multinationals worldwide. There have been tumultuous political and economic changes over the past decade. When Evolution was first published, globalization was not the topic of everyday conversation and concern which it has become more recently. This new book reflects the many changes that have occurred over the last decade, as well as a proliferation of new research, which it aims to make accessible to a wider audience.

The text has been written with the specific intent of making the latest research in business history and international business available to non-specialists, and students taking a range of courses in business, management, economics and the social sciences more generally. The Appendices at the end of the book include a listing of the world's fifty largest non-financial multinationals at the beginning of the twenty-first century, a glossary of key terms - which are emboldened where first mentioned in the text - and a time line of decisive events in the evolution of global capitalism over the last two centuries. The brief case studies are intended to provide real world examples of central issues and leading firms, complementing and breaking up the text.

I have discussed the ideas and research in this book with colleagues in many different countries. I would like to acknowledge a number of special debts. Mira Wilkins remains my constant adviser and source of inspiration on all aspects of the history of multinationals, as well as a wonderful friend. David Merrett has once again read my text, and provided wise and critical guidance at just the right moment. Fabienne Fortanier greatly improved the arguments in the book. I have always learned much from discussions with Jean-François Hennart, Keetie E. Sluyterman, and Ken'ichi Yasumuro.

I would like to thank my former academic colleagues in business history and international business at the University of Reading, including Tony Corley, Mark Casson, John H. Dunning, Teresa Lopes, and Denise Tsang, for sharing their research and insights on the history and theory of multinational enterprise. At the Harvard Business School, where I moved permanently in 2002, Laura Alfaro, Pankaj Ghemawat, Jeff Fear, Tarun Khanna, Tom McCraw, and Richard Tedlow have been important influences on my thinking, as have several classes of MBA students. Alfred D. Chandler Jr has always been an inspiration.

Linda Kelly-Hayes worked hard on getting the manuscript ready for publication. I should thank Rattana and Dylan most of all for surviving the experience of living with an author.

Geoffrey Jones

June 2004

Cambridge, Mass.

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