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Fdi and Mnc

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FOREIGN DIRECT INVESTMENT AND THE MULTINATIONAL CORPORATION

CHAPTER 2.

2.1. INTRODUCTION International business activity is by no means a recent phenomenon. The lives of Phoenicians and Carthaginians, in the ancient world, were deeply dependent on international business. This economic activity included foreign direct investment (FDI), joint ventures and strategic alliances, among other forms of internationalisation (Moore and Lewis, 1999). Several multinational corporations (MNEs) can also be identified in Europe in the middle ages and in the beginning of the modern era (Dunning, 1993a; Jones, 1996). The origins of modern international business activity however, are associated with the industrial revolution. Modern MNEs, in particular, have their roots in the massive international movement of factors that took place in the nineteenth century (Dunning, 1993a: p.99). Resource-seeking was the most common motivation of FDI in this period, even if by 1850 many firms had already crossed the Atlantic, in both directions, in what can be defined as market-seeking investment (Dunning, 1993a: p.100; Jones, 1996: p.5).

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Despite the presence of FDI, most foreign investment in the nineteenth century - and indeed until the late 1940s – was portfolio capital. As a result, international business activity was largely ignored in economic theory until the late 1950s. On the one hand, the phenomenon did not have a major perceived economic impact. It was widely assumed that MNEs were a passing post-war phenomenon originating in the United States (Jones, 1996: p.3). On the other hand (and probably more importantly), the neo-classical theory, based upon perfect markets and the international immobility of factors, did not easily incorporate multinational activity. The growth of FDI (and of the MNEs themselves) that followed World War II emphasised the inadequacy of the...

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