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

By Geoffrey Jones | Go to book overview

1 Concepts

1.1 Business and globalization

This book is concerned with the role of multinationals in the creation of global capitalism over the past two centuries. Multinationals are firms that operate in more than one country. The central premise of this book is that they should be seen as one of the primary drivers of the flows of investment, trade, and knowledge across national borders, which are at the heart of the globalization process. It follows that it is essential to understand the historical evolution of multinationals in order to understand the nature and dynamics of globalization.

The book is organized in five parts. Part I provides a theoretical and historical context for understanding the role of multinationals in global capitalism. Part II shows how multinationals saw and exploited opportunities to create value by operating across borders in natural resources, manufacturing, and services. Part III shows how these firms learned to build organizations that functioned in multiple environments. Part IV examines the policy environment faced by multinationals which has shaped their growth and strategies. Part V reviews the historical evidence on the economic, social and political impact of multinationals.


1.2 Globalization debates

Globalization remains a highly contested subject. Countries and regions have become linked by complex flows of trade and investment. As a result, globalization has become part of the reality of the daily life of people in a way unimaginable even two decades ago. Both a blue-collar worker in Michigan and an IT software engineer in California now work in an environment where their jobs might be 'outsourced' overnight to another continent. The growth of globalization has resulted in unprecedented contacts between cultures, but it has not yet diminished clashes between them. The terrorist attack on September 11, 2001 demonstrated that globalization was far from a guarantor of peace and harmony.

The phenomenon of globalization has attracted a vast literature. There are many definitions. The geographer Harvey (1989) sees it as the 'compression' of time and space. The sociologist Guillén (2001) defined it as 'a process leading to greater independence and mutual awareness (reflexivity) among economic, political, and social units in

-3-

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

Table of contents

  • Multinationals and Global Capitalism iii
  • Preface v
  • Contents vii
  • List of Figures viii
  • List of Tables ix
  • List of Boxes x
  • Part I Frameworks 1
  • 1: Concepts 3
  • Summary 15
  • 2: Multinationals and Globalization 16
  • Summary 40
  • Part II Exploiting Opportunities 43
  • 3: Natural Resources 45
  • 4: Manufacturing 76
  • 5: Services 109
  • Part III Building Organizations 145
  • 6: Crossing Borders 147
  • 7: Managing Multinationals 166
  • Part Ivexternal Environment 199
  • 8: Public Policy 201
  • Part V Outcomes 229
  • 9: Multinationals and Home Economies 231
  • 10: Engines of Growth? 255
  • 11: Conclusions 285
  • Appendix 2 302
  • Bibliography 307
  • Index 329
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