Multinational Corporations; There Definition and Evolution

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A Multinational Corporation has been described as one that has production facilities or other fixed assets in at least one foreign country and makes its major management decisions in a global context. In marketing, production, research and development, and labor relations, its decisions must be made in terms of host-country customs and traditions. In finance, many of its problems have no domestic counterpart-the payment of dividends in another currency, for example, or the need to shelter working capital from the risk of devaluation, or the choices between owning and licensing. Economic and legal questions must be dealt with in drastically different ways. In addition to foreign exchange risks and the special business risks of operating in unfamiliar environments, there is the specter of political risk-the risk that sovereign governments may interfere with operations or terminate them altogether.

Multinational corporations have many dimensions and can be viewed from several perspectives (ownership, management, strategy and structural, etc.) The following is an excerpt from Franklin Root (International Trade and Investment, 1994) Ownership criterion: some argue that ownership is a key criterion. A firm becomes multinational only when the headquarter or parent company is effectively owned by nationals of two or more countries. For example, Shell and Unilever, controlled by British and Dutch interests, are good examples. However, by ownership test, very few multinationals are multinational. The ownership of most MNCs are uninational. (see videotape concerning the Smith-Corona versus Brothers case) Depending on the case, each is considered an American multinational company in one case, and each is considered a foreign multinational in another case. Thus, ownership does not really matter. Nationality mix of headquarter managers: An international company is multinational if the managers of the parent company are nationals of several countries. Usually, managers of...
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