What happens when previously autonomous firms from different countries, each with their own identities, routines, and capabilities, come together inside a single multinational corporation? Can a cooperative strategy be established that advances the development of the multinational as a whole, or do mutual misunderstandings and the unintended consequences of strategic interaction among the players lead instead to endemic conflict and disintegration? This book tackles these novel and important questions through an empirical study of the strategic constitution of an 'actually existing' multinational. It does so by tracing the historical construction of the multinational corporation from the confluence of multiple formerly independent firms and analyzing the interacting web of strategies pursued by different actors within it. The analysis reveals how workers, unionists, subsidiary managers, and corporate executives pursue separate strategic games rooted in their local contexts, whose global outcome contrasts sharply with idealized views of the multinational as an integrated and coordinated organization.
By comparing these findings to those of the broader literature, the book proceeds to a theoretical examination of the challenges of managing the multinational, and the difficulties of resolving them through conventional organizational means. The authors propose new procedural solutions aimed at fostering mutual recognition and knowledge exchange within the multinational corporation, and explore how a multinational public may be created to press for the necessary reforms in corporate governance. As the success of such reforms is far from preordained, the book concludes with a series of alternative scenarios that illustrate the many obstacles to a smooth continuation of the globalization process. This is an important and original study of significance for researchers, academics, and advanced students of international business, business strategy, economics, organizational studies, economic sociology, economic geography, and international political economy.
Peer Hull Kristensen is Professor of the Sociology of Business Firms and Work Organization at the Copenhagen Business School, where he is also Director of the PhD programme of the Department of Organization and Industrial Sociology. He is editor and co-editor of numerous comparative studies of economic organization, including Governance at Work: The Social Regulation of Economic Relations (OUP, 1997) and The Multinational Firm (OUP 2001). Jonanthan Zeitlin is Professor of Sociology, Public Affairs, and History at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he is also a Director of the Center on World Affairs and the Global Economy. He is author of numerous books, including Americanization and its Limits: Reworking US Technology and Management in Postwar Europe and Japan (OUP 2000) and Governing Work and Welfare in a New Economy: European and American Experiments (OUP, 2003).
1. Introduction: Multinational Corporations as Lead Agents of Globalization? ; PART I: LOCAL PATHWAYS TO MUTLINATIONAL ENTERPRISE ; 2. Associating Local Strategies of Global Reach: Horsens, Lake Mills, Eastbourne, and APV ; PART II: A GLOBAL GAME ENACTED BY LOCAL PLAYERS ; 3. Horsens: Local Strategies on a Global Stage ; 4. Lake Mills: Self-Limiting Strategies of a Solidaristic Plant Community ; 6. Lygon Place: A Corporate Headquarters at War With Itself ; 7. Strategic Positions and Positional Strategies ; PART III: MANAGERIAL CHALLENGES AND HUMAN PROMISES OF GLOBALIZATION ; 8. Managing the Multinational: Administrative and Human Challenges ; 9. The Functions of the Executive Revisited: contributions, Inducements, and Constitutional Ordering ; 10. Pragmatic Solutions: From Procedural Justice to Learning by Monitoring ; 11. Creating a Multinational Public for the Corporation ; 12. Conclusion: Sideshadowing the Future of Globalization