The research proposition of this paper is that multinational enterprises (MNEs) were important in the process of growth and divergence that took place in the world in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The rate of growth of GDP per capita was unprecedented, but it was coupled with an increasing gap between the developed and the developing countries. MNEs are even more important in the growth and convergence process that started at the beginning of the twenty-first century where the gap is closing. Global sourcing is the strategy that has led to closing the gap while high growth continues. The paper aims to discuss these issues.
The study is based on macroeconomics general equilibrium model in an imperfect market and on looking at the inventive process as the driving process of the development and the location of MNEs. Using a financial economics model of assets and liabilities, it is shown that MNEs affect the geopolitical distribution of income and wealth through expanding their liabilities. The methodology is a combination of applying economic model and using historical and current data to motivate the use of the model and to validate the models and the conclusions derived from them.
MNEs and major global companies before the name MNE was used were shaped by major macroeconomic processes like the inventive process and the same time they were the prime movers of the two major economic processes of the last 200 years: growth and divergence and growth and convergence. The ideas-led growth model shows why MNEs are becoming larger. As MNEs became bigger they start to import inputs through value maximizing strategy of global sourcing. This led to transfer of value to suppliers in emerging markets that grow over time and eventually it led to new MNEs from emerging markets large countries like China and from smaller countries in Asia and elsewhere. The growth convergence process and the resulting changes in the geopolitical distribution of MNEs is assisted by rapid changes in technology that reduces transactions cost. The continuation of rapid changes in transactions costs is likely to change the current structure, strategy and the location of MNEs and may reverse the growth convergence process once more.
The study begins with aggregate macroeconomic processes and relates them to the development of MNEs and in particular to the development of MNEs from emerging markets. It highlights the importance of global value chains and global sourcing in the process of growth and divergence and the turning of the “Wheel for Fortune” toward China and India as it has been prior to the sixteenth century.
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