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date: 04 March 2021

Investment and Transnational Corporationslocked

  • Jonathan CrystalJonathan CrystalDepartment of Political Science, Fordham University


Transnational corporations (TNCs) are networks of related enterprises, composed of a parent in one country and subsidiaries or affiliates in other countries. They play a central role in the global economy, and have recently come into focus in international political economy (IPE) scholarship. Early studies on TNCs and foreign direct investment (FDI) took place in the late 1960s and the 1970s. FDIs are a type of cross-border investment in which a resident in one economy establishes a lasting interest in an enterprise in another economy, in order to ensure a significant degree of influence by the direct investor in the management of the direct investment enterprise. Both TNCs and FDIs were controversial in the field, as tensions arose between TNCs and host states and people began to question whether or not FDIs were beneficial for developing countries. By the 1980s and 1990s, the world fell into the grip of financial crisis, and the study of TNCs fell largely into neglect, only to witness a revival during the 2000s. Since then, while the field of IPE has returned to focus its research on FDI, the current literature has taken a different track from the earlier work, and the results have made important contributions to answering questions about the effects of FDI and about what affects firm–state bargaining or the governance of TNCs in the twenty-first century. Too much of the recent literature, however, still focuses narrowly on explaining investment flows.

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