Transnational Corporations: Fragmentation Amidst Integration

By Grazia Ietto-Gillies | Go to book overview

4

Cross-border internal networksof the world's largest TNCs

4.1Introduction

The previous chapter was devoted to a theoretical analysis of the changing boundaries of the modern firm and the networks to which this gives rise. Within the framework presented, one type of network emerges from the international locational dimension. In the present and next chapters empirical evidence will be presented and analysed on the extent to which large TNCs are involved in strategies of locational diversification by nation-state. The results will help in the development of a theoretical perspective on the role of multi-nationality in the determinants of international production, which is developed in chapter six.

As already mentioned in chapter one, Held et al. (1999) distinguish between 'extensity, intensity, velocity and impact' of globalisation in their various manifestations. Chapter two provided some empirical evidence of the growing role of TNCs in world activities. We know that the number of companies which have branched out into direct production abroad, and thus have become TNCs, has increased. So has the range and value of their activities abroad. Therefore, the intensity or deepening of activities by TNCs has increased considerably. We also know, from chapter two, that international production and, in general, all activities related to TNCs have expanded. The number of countries involved in FDI either as host or home country, or both, has increased; so has the cross-country involvement in inter-firm alliances. What about the 'extensity' or geographical scope of such activities? There is only scanty evidence on the geographical spread or 'extensity' of operations at the level of single TNCs and thus on the internal geographical network of their operations.

The location pattern of international production at the macro level is the outcome of strategic decisions of thousands of companies worldwide. Are the new TNCs investing in the same countries in which old ones have been involved or are they testing new waters? Are well established TNCs increasing their portfolio of foreign assets by investing more in the same countries in which they already own assets, or are they branching out into new territories and countries? What possible strategies lie behind these

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