Theoretical debates on multinationals from emerging economies

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For several decades, the theory of international business assumed that MNCs “concentrated mainly in knowledge-intensive industries characterized by high levels of research and development (R&D) expenditure and advertising expenditure, and by the employment of skilled labor” (Buckley and Casson, 2009: 1563). Firms in emerging markets do not have the capabilities to compete against these MNCs and should concentrate on being production workshops. In contrast to this view, a spate of firms from emerging market economies increasingly expanded their operations by foreign direct investments in other countries, including the advanced economies. These developments call for a reflection from both historical and theoretical viewpoints – was the theory wrong? Do these firms have firm-specific advantages? If so, what are they? How different is the internationalization process of these firms? Further, many of these firms are state-owned. Does ownership matter and, if so, how? What are the ramifications of government involvement in business operations to the international economic order? I start with a brief survey of the historical evolution of theories explaining the existence of international production, and then turn to the case of emerging market multinationals. I then suggest areas I consider to be important for future research. In keeping with the purpose of this volume, I try to be provocative.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationUnderstanding Multinationals from Emerging Markets
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages16
ISBN (Electronic)9781107587632
ISBN (Print)9781107064539
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2013


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