Multinational corporation

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The shipyard of the Dutch East India Company in Amsterdam, 1726.

A multinational corporation is an organization, that owns or controls production of goods or services in one or more countries other than their home country. It can also be referred as an international corporation, a transnational corporation, a stateless corporation, or a worldwide enterprise.


  • Another development of unquestionably vital importance, which cuts across and embraces the present structure of international economic relations, and which in practice makes a mockery of international agreements, is the expansion of the great multinational corporations. The financial, commercial and technological potential concentrated in these is steadily increasing, and they are rapidly becoming the real power factor behind the current features of the world economy. They have their own objectives, their own trade policies, their shipping policies, their own investment policies, their own integration policies, their own outlook, their own lines of action. A world of their own.
    • Salvador Allende, April 13, 1972, as quoted in Historic Documents of 1972. Washington, DC: CQ Press.
  • Another factor that should be regarded as more favorable stems from the increasingly obvious conflicts between the public interests (which are of real benefit to the peoples) of the wealthy nations and the private interests of their great international corporations. The overall cost (military, economic, social and political) of operating through multinational enterprises exceeds their contribution to the central economies and becomes increasingly burdensome to the taxpayer. We should also take into consideration the plundering of these international cartels, and their powerful corruptive influence on public institutions in rich and poor countries alike. The peoples affected oppose such exploitation and demand that the government concerned cease giving over part of their foreign economic policy to private enterprises that arrogate to themselves the role of agents promoting the progress of the poorer countries and that have become a supranational force which is threatening to get completely out of control. This undeniable fact has profound implications for the proceedings of the present Conference. There is a serious risk that, even if satisfactory agreement is reached by the representatives of sovereign states, the measures upon which we agree may produce no real effects, inasmuch as these companies handle de facto the practical application of the agreements in silence and conforming to their own interests.
    • Salvador Allende, April 13, 1972, as quoted in Historic Documents of 1972. Washington, DC: CQ Press.
  • You'll go quitely to boot camp
    They'll shoot you dead, make you a man
    Don't you worry, it's for a cause
    Feeding global corporations' claws
  • Nation state as a fundamental unit of man's organized life has ceased to be the principal creative force: International banks and multinational corporations are acting and planning in terms that are far in advance of the political concepts of the nation-state.
  • Cuando superas la idea de una Europa sublime, sólo ves una organización de tiburones y multinacionales que no están por encima de los estados sino que los utilizan.
    When you overcome the idea of a sublime Europe, you only see an organization of sharks and multinationals that are not above the states but rather use them, because without the state police the multinationals would not function.
  • The multinational corporation and international production reflect a world in which capital and technology have become increasingly mobile, while labor has remained relatively immobile.
    • Robert Gilpin, The Political Economy of International Relations (1987), p. 260
  • Academe has become a multinational corporation, and scholars have become businessmen, mobile merchants on the make.
    • Camille Paglia, “Junk Bonds and Corporate Raiders: Academe in the Hour of the Wolf,” Arion, Third Series, Vol. 1, No. 2 (Spring, 1991), p. 172
  • I realized that my gloss as chief economist, head of Economics and Regional Planning... was part of a sinister system aimed not at outfoxing an unsuspecting customer, but rather at promoting the most subtle and effective form of imperialism the world has ever known.... The march had begun and it was rapidly encircling the planet. The hoods had discarded their leather jackets, dressed up in business suits, and taken on an air of respectability. Men and women were descending from corporate headquarters in New York, Chicago, San Francisco, London, and Tokyo, streaming across every continent to convince corrupt politicians to allow their countries to be shackled to the corporatocracy, and to induce desperate people to sell their bodies to sweatshops and assembly lines... a world of smoke and mirrors intended to keep us all shackled to a system that is morally repugnant and ultimately self-destructive.
  • The lackluster nature of most multinational corporations emerging market strategies over the past decade does not change the magnitude of the opportunity. The real source of market promise is not the wealthy few in the developing world, or even the emerging middle-income consumers: It is the billions of aspiring poor who are joining the market economy for the first time.
    • C. K. Prahalad & Stuart L Hart, cited in: Jeffrey E. Garten (2002), The Politics of Fortune: A New Agenda for Business Leaders, p. 125
  • The composition of Unilever should serve as a warning that colonialism was not simply a matter of ties between a given colony and its mother country, but between colonies on the one hand and metropoles on the other. The German capital in Unilever joined the British in exploiting Africa and the Dutch in exploiting the East Indies. The rewards spread through the capitalist system in such a way that even those capitalist nations who were not colonial powers were also beneficiaries of the spoils. Unilever factories established in Switzerland, New Zealand, Canada, and the U.S.A. were participants in the expropriation of Africa’s surplus and in using that surplus for their own development.
  • What we’ve been hearing from the panelists is how the global food system works right now... It’s based on large multinational companies, private profits, and very low international transfers to help poor people (sometimes no transfers at all). It’s based on the extreme irresponsibility of powerful countries with regard to the environment. And it’s based on a radical denial of the economic rights of poor people... We’ve just heard from the Minister of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Many point a finger of blame at the DRC and other poor countries for their poverty. Yet we don’t seem to remember, or want to remember, that starting around 1870, King Leopold of Belgium created a slave colony in the Congo that lasted for around 40 years; and then the government of Belgium ran the colony for another 50 years. In 1961, after independence of the DRC, the CIA then assassinated the DRC’s first popular leader, Patrice Lumumba, and installed a US-backed dictator, Mobutu Sese Seko, for roughly the next 30 years. And in recent years, Glencore and other multinational companies suck out the DRC’s cobalt without paying a level of royalties and taxes. We simply don’t reflect on the real history of the DRC and other poor countries struggling to escape from poverty. Instead, we point fingers at these countries and say, “What’s wrong with you? Why don’t you govern yourselves properly?”
  • If we are to grasp the dynamics of this unforecasted storm, we have to move beyond the familiar cognitive frame of macroeconomics that we inherited from the early twentieth century. Forged in the wake of World War I and World War II, the macroeconomic perspective on international economics is organized around nation-states, national productive systems and the trade imbalances they generate. It is a view of the economy that will forever be identified with John Maynard Keynes. Predictably, the onset of the crisis in 2008 evoked memories of the 1930s and triggered calls for a return to “the master.” And Keynesian economics is, indeed, indispensable for grasping the dynamics of collapsing consumption and investment, the surge in unemployment and the options for monetary and fiscal policy after 2009. But when it comes to analyzing the onset of financial crises in an age of deep globalization, the standard macroeconomic approach has its limits. In discussions of international trade it is now commonly accepted that it is no longer national economies that matter. What drives global trade are not the relationships between national economies but multinational corporations coordinating far-flung “value chains.” The same is true for the global business of money. To understand the tensions within the global financial system that exploded in 2008 we have to move beyond Keynesian macroeconomics and its familiar apparatus of national economic statistics. As Hyun Song Shin, chief economist at the Bank for International Settlements and one of the foremost thinkers of the new breed of “macrofinance,” has put it, we need to analyze the global economy not in terms of an “island model” of international economic interaction—national economy to national economy—but through the “interlocking matrix” of corporate balance sheets—bank to bank. As both the global financial crisis of 2007–2009 and the crisis in the eurozone after 2010 would demonstrate, government deficits and current account imbalances are poor predictors of the force and speed with which modern financial crises can strike. This can be grasped only if we focus on the shocking adjustments that can take place within this interlocking matrix of financial accounts. For all the pressure that classic “macroeconomic imbalances”—in budgets and trade—can exert, a modern global bank run moves far more money far more abruptly.
    • Adam Tooze Crashed: How a Decade of Financial Crises Changed the World (2018)
  • The Earth gives us life, not the American government. The earth gives us life, not the multi-national corporate government. The Earth gives us life. We need to have the Earth. We must have it, otherwise our life will be no more. So we must resist what they do.

See also

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