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Transnational corporations

Sklair, Leslie (2012) Transnational corporations. In: Ritzer, George, (ed.) The Wiley-Blackwell Encyclopedia of Globalization. Wiley-Blackwell, Oxford, UK; Malden MA, USA. ISBN 9781405188241

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Identification Number: 10.1002/9780470670590.wbeog908


The term transnational corporation (TNC) basically refers to a business enterprise that operates in more than one country though most definitions will stipulate a minimum number of countries and a minimum set of functions (usually production, marketing and sales). The TNC is widely considered to be the driving force of capitalist globalization. Research on TNCs is dominated by no single methodology or substantive focus, but borrows from more or less all of the varying traditions in the social sciences. By volume, most of the research on the TNCs has actually been done by economists, business historians and organization theorists and some of this work has been influential on the ways other disciplines have approached them. In 1992 the United Nations Library on Transnational Corporations was launched, collecting together more than 8,000 pages in 20 volumes (Dunning 1992–1994). For all their excellent qualities it must be said that the 20 volumes of the UN Library on TNCs are dominated by the paradigm of conventional economics, are somewhat conservative in outlook (they focus largely on economic efficiency and structural issues) and generally present a picture that predates the debates around the role of TNCs in capitalist globalization. For the roots of this debate we must consider more radical approaches to the TNCs that investigate social, political and cultural as well as economic effects. For example, Stopford and Strange (1991) present a firm-firm, firm-state and state-state framework that opens up research on the TNCs in the field of International Relations; Dicken (2007) explores TNC relationships between the local and the global in geographical terms, and Sklair (2001) focuses on the major corporations, namely the Fortune Global 500, from a sociological perspective.

Item Type: Book Section
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2012 Blackwell Publishing Inc.
Divisions: Sociology
LSE Human Rights
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor
H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
J Political Science > JC Political theory
Sets: Departments > Sociology
Research centres and groups > Centre for the Study of Human Rights
Date Deposited: 19 Dec 2013 10:59
Last Modified: 02 Jul 2021 23:30

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