Multinational firms are a ubiquitous feature of modern economies, yet how much do we really know about how they work? This book reveals the complexity of managing multinationals and shatters the myth of the multinational as a unified, economically-rational firm.
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This book addresses the debate over the nature of multinational enterprises (MNEs) and analyses common conceptions and misconceptions about their role. Rather than comprehensively covering the wide and complex topic of the multinational it presents a range of different perspectives by leading academics around the general themes of the evolution, current form and organisation and impact or effects of multinationals.
A central aim of the book is to generate informed debate and discussion by presenting both alternative and contradictory views. Different perspectives on what makes multinational firms ‘tick’ also provide practical insights for practitioners, policymakers and the general public. Simplistic stereotypes of the multinational are deconstructed and examined with different analytical lenses. Case study examples in each Chapter provide real-world illustrations to bring these themes alive throughout the text. The combination of disparate theoretical approaches, alternative methodologies and case material also add value in a teaching context, supporting more informed debate on the nature of multinationals.
The volume addresses commonly held beliefs and misconceptions about the nature and role of multi-national enterprises. It presents a range of perspectives by leading academics, focusing on core themes and illustrating these themes with current business practices.
The multinational corporation has its origins in the caravans of the Sahara and the Silk Route and in the trade winds of the Indian Ocean and the ancient shipping lanes originating from the Levant. It modern form is now older than a hundred years. Yet, it continues to fascinate, because it appears to be the most powerful transnational institution in the global economy. These articles, edited by Collinson and Morgan, are exceptional for refusing disciplinary boundaries, thereby offering a rich and holistic view on the multinational corporation. The volume has an unusual integration, seen in the re-interpretation of the chapter by Kristensen and Zeitlin and by the organizational lens imposed by Eleanor Westney in her compelling contribution. Collectively, the chapters compose a view of the multinational corporation as a politicized network, caught between the institutional webs of national settings and the consuming efforts to coordinate across borders. Far from the powerful image of a global arbitrageur of national economies, the multinational corporation is an entity forever struggling for its life and, in the course of this struggle, evolving and, sometimes, failing.
Bruce Kogut, Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. Professor, Columbia Business School
Most edited volumes tend to be disjointed collections of loosely connected contributions held together by the flimsiest of excuses. In this case, I am delighted to say, we have an outstanding collection which delivers what edited volumes should do - it challenges the reader with multiple perspectives from a number of thought leaders in various fields - multiple 'images' of the multinational enterprise, as promised in the title. The splendid introductory chapter places these contributions together, and lays the ground work for new conceptual work in the subject work. Collinson and Morgan have produced a volume which is a must-read for all scholars in the field.
Professor Rajneesh Narula, Director, John H Dunning Centre for International Business, Henley Business School at the University of Reading.
This publication is rare in the field of international business management. In contrast to many of the mainstream publications, which focus primarily on economic or structuralist 'images' of multinationals, this book offers a much broader and more comprehensive overview. Written by leading academics in the field, the chapters provide a multifaceted picture of the multinational corporation, combining classical with newer and more critical approaches. It is a must-read for scholars, interested in the socio-economic, social and political constitution of internationally operating companies.
Professor Mike Geppert, Professor of International Management, Surrey University.
"All too often the multinational enterprise is examined from within narrow disciplinary compartments with little mutual comprehension or exchange. The bright idea behind this book is to ask a strong array of international experts to present their contrasting ‘images’ of what the multinational is. The juxtaposition of different ways of thinking about multinationals is fruitful and thought-provoking, uncovering much common ground as well as continuing fundamental differences. The volume is intended primarily as a tool to help students and their lecturers engage in dialogue on the nature of multinationals. The clearly written but nuanced contributions, together with helpful case studies and discussion questions, should achieve this. But the book will also interest researchers on multinationals, not least by encouraging them to make explicit, and perhaps revise, their own underlying assumptions about the nature of the complex phenomenon in question.
Prof Anthony Ferner, Leicester Business SchoolAbout the Author:
Glenn Morgan is Senior Lecturer in Organizational Behaviour at Warwick Business School. He was previously Lecturer in Organizational Behaviour at Manchester Business School and Research Fellow at Manchester School of Management, UMIST. Peer Hull Kristensen is Professor in the Department of Organization and Industrial Sociology, Copenhagen Business School. Richard Whitley is Professor of Organizational Sociology at the Manchester Business School, University of Manchester. He has also held visiting academic appointments at the International University of Japan (1993), University of Hong Kong (1988), Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, Paris (1987), University of Amsterdam (1982), St Anthony's College, Oxford (1981), and the Inter-University Graduate School of Management, Delft, The Netherlands (1977, 1979).
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