Multinational Corporations in Transnational Networks: Theoretical and Regulatory Challenges in Historical Perspective


Multinational corporations (MNCs) have become the most powerful drivers of integration and structural changes in today’s global economy. MNCs have not completely subordinated States and markets in shaping the global economy, but they have transformed the world and given rise to a new set of economic, political, social, cultural and legal problems. Yet, quite ironically, MNCs are now facing a recombination that tends to subordinate them to transnational networks of corporate economic power. The thorny issue of regulating the global economy is, in this context, even more complex as regulatory systems of global governance must be built to fit those transnational networks superseding States and firms. This article presents an overview of the most important theories in international political economy on MNCs in order to situate the new theoretical challenges pertaining to the understanding of contemporary structural changes in the world economy and their incidences on global governance. The first section presents three configurations of globalization and concludes on the theoretical challenges of explaining and understanding the emergence and development of transnational economic networks. A second section discusses some current issues of regulation. The overall statement of this article is that globalization has, during the last decades, transformed international political economy in ways that now require new theoretical paradigms and new modes of global regulation that are adapted to a truly global economy made of networks rather than nations or firms.

Share and Cite:

Rioux, M. (2014) Multinational Corporations in Transnational Networks: Theoretical and Regulatory Challenges in Historical Perspective. Open Journal of Political Science, 4, 109-117. doi: 10.4236/ojps.2014.43012.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


[1] Andreff, W. (1996). La déterritorialisation des multi-nationales: Firmes globales et firmes-réseaux. Cultures et Conflits, 21-22, 373-396.
[2] Bain, J. S. (1956). Barriers to New Competition. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
[3] Byé, M. (1958). Self-Financed Multi-Territorial Units and Their Time Horizon. International Economic Papers, 8, 147-178.
[4] Buckley, P. J., & Casson, M. C. (1976). The Future of the Multinational Entreprise. Londres: Macmillan.
[5] Buckley P. J., & Casson M. C. (1985). The Economic Theory of the Multinational Entreprise. Londres : Macmillan.
[6] Caves, R. E. (1982). Multinational Enterprise and Economic Analysis. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
[7] Cerny, P. (1990). The Changing Architecture of Politics. Londres: Sage.
[8] Cerny, P. (1997). Paradoxes of the Competition State. The Dynamics of Political Globalization. Government and Opposition, 32, 251-274.
[9] Cowling, K., & Sugden, R. (1998). The Essence of the Modern Corporation: Markets, Strategic Decision-Making and the Theory of the Firm. The Manchester School, 66, 59-86.
[10] Dunning, J. H. (1991). Governments and Multinational Enterprise: From Confrontation to Co-Operation? Millennium, 20, 225-244.
[11] Dunning, J. H. (1995). Reappraising the Eclectic Paradigm in an Age of Alliance Capitalism. Journal of International Business Studies, 26, 461-491.
[12] Dunning, J. H. (1997). Alliance Capitalism and Global Business. Londres: Routledge.
[13] Ernst, D., & Kim L. (2002). Global Productions Networks, Knowledge Diffusion, and Local Capability Formation. Research Policy, 31, 1417-1429.
[14] Friedrichs, J. (2004). The Neomedieval Renaissance: Global Governance and International Law in the New Middle Ages. In I. F. Dekker, & W. G. Werner (Eds.), Governance and International Legal Theory (pp. 3-36). Leiden and Boston: Martinus Nijhoff.
[15] Galbraith, J. K. (1967). The New Industrial State. Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin.
[16] Gereffi, G., Humphrey, J., & Sturgeon, T. J. (2005). The Governance of Global Value Chains. Review of International Political Economy, 12, 78-104.
[17] Graz, J. C., & Nolke, A. (Eds.) (2008). Transnational Private Governance and Its Limits. Londres & New York: Routledge/ ECPR Studies in European Political Science.
[18] Haufler, V. (2006). Global Governance in the Private Sector. In C. May (Eds.), Global Corporate Power (pp. 181-197). Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner Publishers.
[19] Hymer, S. (1968). La grande “corporation” multinationale: Analyse de certaines raisons qui poussent à l'intégration internationale des affaires. Revue économique, 19, 949-973.
[20] Hymer, S. (1976). The International Operations of Nation Firms: A Study of Direct Foreign Investment. Cambridge: MIT Press.
[21] Kindleberger, C. P. (1973). Oligopolistic Reaction and the Multinational Enterprise. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
[22] Krugman, P. (1996). Pop Internationalism. Boston, MA: MIT Press.
[23] Michalet, C. A. (2002). Qu’est-ce que la mondialisation. Paris: La Découverte.
[24] Moran, T. H. (2009). The United Nations and Transnational Corporations: A Review and a Perspective. Transnational Corporations, 18, 91-112.
[25] Nalebuff, B. J., & Brandenburger, A. N. (1996). Co-Opetition. Londres: Harper Collins.
[26] Pitelis, C. N. (2002). Stephen Hymer: Life and the Political Economy of Multinational Corporate Capital. Contributions to Political Economy, 21, 9-26.
[27] Pitelis, C. N. (2005). On Globalisation and Governance; Some Issues. Contributions to Political Economy, 24, 1-12.
[28] Polanyi-Levitt, K. (1982). Stephen Hymer on the Multinational Corporation. Review, 6, 253-279.
[29] Porter, M. E. (1990). The Competitive Advantage of Nations. New York: Free Press.
[30] Rodrik, D. (2002). Feasible Globalizations. NBER Working Paper, n 9129, September.
[31] Rosenau, J. N., & Czempiel E. O. (1992). Governance without Government: Order and Change in World Politics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
[32] Ruggie, J. G. (1994). At Home Abroad, Abroad at Home: International Liberalisation and Domestic Stability in the New World Economy. Journal of International Studies, 24, 507-526.
[33] Rugman, A. M. (1981). Inside the Multinationals. London: Croom Helm.
[34] Rugman, A. M. (Ed.) (1982). New Theories of the Multinational Enterprise. Londres: Croom Helm.
[35] Slaughter, A. M. (2000). Government Networks: The Heart of the Liberal Democratic Order. In G. H. Fox, & B. R. Roth (Eds.), Democratic Governance and International Law (pp. 199-235). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
[36] Stopford, J., & Strange, S. (1991). Rival States, Rival Firms: Competition for World Market Shares. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
[37] Teece, D. J. (1980). Economies of Scope and the Scope of the Enterprise. Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization, 1, 223-247.
[38] Vernon, R. (1966). International Investment and International Trade in the Product Cycle. The Quarterly Journal of Economics, 80, 190-207.
[39] Vernon, R. (1971). Sovereignty at Bay. New York: Basic Books.
[40] Vernon, R. (1977). Storm over the Multinationals: The Real Issues. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
[41] Vernon, R. (1981). Sovereignty at Bay: Ten Years after. International Organization, 35, 517-529.
[42] Wilkins, M. (1996). Thinking Big, Thinking Small, but Thinking Internationally: Some Ruminations on the History of Business and Business History in the Twentieth Century. Business and Economic History, 25, 119-130.

Copyright © 2021 by authors and Scientific Research Publishing Inc.

Creative Commons License

This work and the related PDF file are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.