The Nature of the Transnational Firm

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by Pitelis, Christos

Arguably a reason for this is that the idea has never been tested empirically. In this paper we provide the first such empirical test. Volume 43 , Issue 2. The full text of this article hosted at iucr. If you do not receive an email within 10 minutes, your email address may not be registered, and you may need to create a new Wiley Online Library account.

If the address matches an existing account you will receive an email with instructions to retrieve your username. Search for more papers by this author. Return to Book Page. Marit Sjovaag Nfa Editor. Marit Sjovaag Editor. The Nature of the Transnational Firm brings together the major approaches to the transnational firm in one volume.

Centre for Financial and Management Studies

Leading thinkers present overviews of a vibrant theoretical literature and assess the current state of analysis. Thoroughly revised and updated to take account the explosive growth of foreign direct investment in the s, this volume will be welcomed by stud The Nature of the Transnational Firm brings together the major approaches to the transnational firm in one volume.

Thoroughly revised and updated to take account the explosive growth of foreign direct investment in the s, this volume will be welcomed by students and researchers of international business, international economics and business economics. Contributors include: John Cantwell, John H.

The Nature of the Transnational Firm by Christos Pitelis | | Booktopia

Dunning, Edward M. Get A Copy. Published June 23rd by Routledge first published May 27th More Details Friend Reviews.

Nestle: Transnational Company

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up. Technical definitions of TNCs vary, but for the purposes of this guide the term "transnational corporation" means a for-profit enterprise marked by two basic characteristics: 1 it engages in enough business activities -- including sales, distribution, extraction, manufacturing, and research and development -- outside the country of origin so that it is dependent financially on operations in two or more countries; 2 and its management decisions are made based on regional or global alternatives.

A TNC can be a "public" corporation, which trades its shares of stock at stock exchanges or brokerage houses; the buyers from the public are "shareholders," and can include individuals as well as institutions such as banks, insurance companies, and pension funds. DuPont and Enron are examples of publicly-traded corporations.

Or a TNC can be "private," meaning that it does not have shares which are traded publicly; such firms are frequently family-controlled.


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Cargill is a private firm which until recently was controlled by two families. A "parent" company, located in the TNC's country of origin, exercises an authoritative, controlling influence over a "subsidiary" in another country either directly if it is private or, if it is public, by owning some or all of the shares parent corporations can exert controlling power even with relatively small share holdings in subsidiaries.

United Carbide India Ltd. Subsidiaries can have a different name than the parent company, and can of course also be located in the same country as the parent. The style of relationships between parent and subsidiary companies --that is, how control is exercised--differs among TNCs' main home regions. More formal, centralised control has typically been a hallmark of US, and to a lesser extent European, corporations than of Japanese TNCs. The earliest historical origins of transnational corporations can be traced to the major colonising and imperialist ventures from Western Europe, notably England and Holland, which began in the 16th century and proceeded for the next several hundred years.

During this period, firms such as the British East India Trading Company were formed to promote the trading activities or territorial acquisitions of their home countries in the Far East, Africa, and the Americas. The transnational corporation as it is known today, however, did not really appear until the 19th century, with the advent of industrial capitalism and its consequences: the development of the factory system; larger, more capital intensive manufacturing processes; better storage techniques; and faster means of transportation.

During the 19th and early 20th centuries, the search for resources including minerals, petroleum, and foodstuffs as well as pressure to protect or increase markets drove transnational expansion by companies almost exclusively from the United States and a handful of Western European nations. Fuelled by numerous mergers and acquisitions, monopolistic and oligopolistic concentration of large transnationals in major sectors such as petrochemicals and food also had its roots in these years. Demand for natural resources continued to provide an impetus for European and US corporate ventures between the First and Second World Wars.

In Japan, this period witnessed the growth of the zaibatsu or "financial clique" including Mitsui and Mitsubishi. These giant corporations, which worked in alliance with the Japanese state, had oligopolistic control of the country's industrial, financial, and trade sectors. US TNCs heavily dominated foreign investment activity in the two decades after the Second World War, when European and Japanese corporations began to play ever greater roles.

In the s, banks in the US, Europe, and Japan started to invest vast sums of money in industrial stocks, encouraging corporate mergers and furthering capital concentration. Major technological advances in shipping, transport especially by air , computerisation, and communications accelerated TNCs' increasing internationalisation of investment and trade, while new advertising capabilities helped TNCs expand market shares. All these trends meant that by the s oligopolistic consolidation and TNCs' role in global commerce was of a far different scale than earlier in the century.

Additionally, TNCs had come to control per cent of world trade outside the centrally planned economies.


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  6. Over the past quarter century, there has been a virtual proliferation of transnat-ionals. In , there were some 7, parent TNCs, while today that number has jumped to 38, Since the early s, these subsidiaries' global sales have surpassed worldwide trade exports as the principal vehicle to deliver goods and services to foreign markets. The top TNCs also account for about one-third of the combined outward foreign direct investment FDI of their countries of origin.

    Since the mids, a large rise of TNC-led foreign direct investment has occurred.


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    There has also been a great increase in TNC investment in the less-industrialized world since the mids; such investment, along with private bank loans, has grown far more dramatically than national development aid or multilateral bank lending. Burdened by debt, low commodity prices, structural adjustment, and unemployment, governments throughout the less-industrialised world today view TNCs, in the words of the British magazine The Economist, as "the embodiment of modernity and the prospect of wealth: full of technology, rich in capital, replete with skilled jobs.

    In , less-industrialised countries accounted for between one-third and two-fifths of global FDI inflows -- more than at any time since The post-Second World War period witnessed not merely a rise in TNCs' control of world trade, but also growth of trade within related enterprises of a given corporation, or "intra-company" trade. While intra-company trade in natural resource products has been a feature of TNCs since before , such trade in intermediate products and services is mainly a phenomenon of recent decades. By the s, an estimated one-third of world trade was intra-company in nature, a proportion which has remained steady to the present day.

    The absolute level and value of intra-company trade has increased considerably since that time, however. Moreover, 80 per cent of international payments for technology royalties and fees are made on an intra-company basis. Problems stemming from intra-company trade concern TNCs' ability to maximise profits by avoiding both market mechanisms and national laws with an instrument of internal costing and accounting known as "transfer pricing. There are many benefits TNCs derive from transfer pricing. By lowering prices in countries where tax rates are high and raising them in countries with a lower tax rate, for example, TNCs can reduce their overall tax burden, thus boosting their overall profits.

    Virtually all intra-company relations including advisory services, insurance, and general management can be categorised as transactions and given a price; charges can as well be made for brand names, head office overheads, and research and development. Through their accounting systems TNCs can transfer these prices among their affiliates, shifting funds around the world to avoid taxation.

    Governments, which have no way to control TNCs' transfer pricing, are therefore under pressure to lower taxes as a means of attracting investment or keeping a company's operation in their country. Tax revenue which might be used for social programs or other domestic needs is thus lost. Moreover, in countries where there are government controls preventing companies from setting product retail prices above a certain percentage of prices of imported goods or the cost of production, the firms can inflate import costs from their subsidiaries and then impose higher retail prices.

    Additionally, TNCs can use overpriced imports or underpriced exports to circumvent governmental ceilings on profit repatriation, causing nation-states to suffer large foreign exchange losses. For instance, if a parent company has a profitable subsidiary in a country where the parent does not wish to re-invest the profits, it can remit them by overpricing imports into that country.