Footloose multinationals: Extending the internalization theory

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Abstract

Internalization theory explains how the multinational enterprise (MNE) makes decisions on new investments but does not explicitly address the restructuring (i.e., unbundling) processes that can take place within the MNE network of subsidiaries. Further extensions to internalization theory have considered the ways MNEs recombine, bundle, unbundle and orchestrate resources but have yet to address specifically the issue of divestments and relocations. We contribute to the literature by extending internalization theory through conceptualizing footloose behavior, a repeated relocation of divested operations over a period of time, and approaching MNEs behavior in a holistic way. Empirically, we use four case studies of mature, complex and diversified MNEs within the context of European Union (EU). These MNEs have engaged in several investments, divestments and relocations over several years. Through the analysis of their behavior we demonstrate how the inclusion of divestments and relocations can extend internalization theory in explaining the modern MNE.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)477-486
Number of pages10
JournalThunderbird International Business Review
Volume63
Issue number4
Early online date21 Feb 2021
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2021

Keywords

  • European Union
  • construct development and evaluation
  • evaluation of current theories
  • integration of pre-existing theoretical approaches
  • internalization theory
  • international business theory

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