Although multinational enterprises (MNEs), according to John Dunning's work, are driven by motives of ownership, location, internalization and, ultimately, higher returns, these business entities, by virtue of their transnational products and services, and extensive reach and resources, provide direct and indirect mechanisms that can shape political and social outcomes. This paper seeks to explore those mechanisms in the context of the so‐called “Arab Spring”, the popular uprising that has ensued in a number of Arab countries. The paper also aims to explore virtual public spheres, the platform from which the Arab Spring was launched, and which owes much to the presence of MNEs.
The analysis is grounded on the theoretical construct of the virtual public sphere. The approaches taken are that of a general review and secondary research.
The main findings of this paper are three‐fold. First, in the examination of the role of MNEs and the virtual public sphere in the Arab Awakening, it is found that the new information and networking technologies have already made a sizable impact in terms of paving the way toward political and social changes. Second, it is found that foreign investments in Arab media, mobile, and internet markets are dominantly regional. Third, behind the social media phenomenon in the Arab world are “born‐global” American firms (MNEs), notably Facebook, Inc., Twitter, Inc., and Google, Inc.
Most research on the Arab Spring has not incorporated the likely distinctive influence of MNEs. In addition, the paper highlights the association between regional and transnational orientations of business activities of multinational firms and political outcomes.
Benmamoun, M., Kalliny, M. and Cropf, R. (2012), "The Arab Spring, MNEs, and virtual public spheres", Multinational Business Review, Vol. 20 No. 1, pp. 26-43. https://doi.org/10.1108/15253831211217189Download as .RIS
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