Re-nationalizing the Corporation: Political Foundations of Corporate Outreach

Authors: Christian May*, Goethe University Frankfurt/Main
Topics: Economic Geography, Business Geography, Social Geography
Keywords: Corporation, MNCs, corporate power, transnationalization
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/6/2019
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:40 AM
Room: Empire Room, Omni, West
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Transnationalization of corporations has been all the rage back in the globalization heydays of the 1990s and 2000s. For some years now, however, transnationalization seems to slow down (UNCTAD 2017). This is not just a result of "corporate overstretch", through which large corporate networks and market-based finance make corporate organization ever more fragile. It is also a result of an increasing political "grip" on corporations over the last decade. Whether this is manifested in US corporate politics or the increasing clout of the state in corporations of emerging economies such as China, India or Brazil – we observe a rising politicization of corporations around the globe which ties firms more and more to their national home bases. This calls for taking politics more seriously in the analysis of TNCs. The drive to transnationalize is obviously not just technically or managerially motivated. Just as the phase of hypertransnationalization coincided with the neoliberal political conjuncture, the current phase shows that this particular political foundation has been crucial to the expansion of corporations. As politics does not automatically mean neoliberalism but (as we currently observe) can also come in the form of re-nationalization, corporate preferences are changing. This has not only consequences for corporate structuring across the global economy (e.g. relations between headquarters and subsidiaries) but also for the organization of global value chains as a whole.

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