Transnational Corporations: Fragmentation Amidst Integration

By Grazia Ietto-Gillies | Go to book overview

Preface

This book is about transnational companies (TNCs), their activities and strategies. The analysis will concentrate on the TNCs as institutions that operate across nation-states in their business activities. At present, they are the main economic actors that can plan, manage and control activities across frontiers. This is a characteristic that is specific to them and that, moreover, gives them a key integrative role, and therefore a key role in the globalisation process.

Operating across nation-states means not just operating across space but also across areas of different 'regulatory regimes'. This entails operations across different tax and currency regimes, different labour organisation regimes, and different business cultures.

It is the contention of this book that the TNCs' ability to operate across frontiers gives them special comparative advantages in relation to other actors in the economic system with which they are confronted. Such actors are, in particular: labour, consumers, uninational companies and national governments. Moreover, the nature of such advantages is specific to transna-tionalism: to the ability to operate across nation-states as loci of different 'regulatory regimes'. This adds to any advantages deriving from exploiting specific location characteristics in any one of the countries in which they operate.

The book is structured in the following way. Part I begins with an excur-sion into the globalisation process and the role played in it by information and communication technologies and by transnational companies. It then goes on to consider (in chapter two) the main cross-country mechanisms of integration and globalisation and to give empirical evidence for them. Specifically, this chapter will examine the role played by the TNCs in the following mechanisms: international trade, foreign direct investment, portfolio investment, profits from foreign investment, international inter-firm collaborative agreements and the movements of labour between countries.

The second part of the book is devoted to TNCs as network institutions. Chapter three contains a theoretical analysis of networks considered in their organisational, locational and proprietary/ownership dimensions and in relation to the objectives of the firm in establishing networks. These will be

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