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Taking the long view of the multinational

André Sammartino (Department of Management and Marketing, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia)
David Merrett (Department of Management and Marketing, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia)
Pierre van der Eng (College of Business and Economics, Australian National University, Canberra, Australia)
Simon Ville (Faculty of Business and Law, University of Wollongong, Wollongong, Australia)

Multinational Business Review

ISSN: 1525-383X

Article publication date: 7 March 2023

Issue publication date: 20 March 2023




This paper argues for the benefits to international business (IB) of taking a much longer view at the engagement by multinational enterprises (MNEs) with host locations.


The authors showcase a project tracking the engagement by MNEs with Australia over the past two centuries. Extensive archival work has been undertaken to identify and document modes of entry, home countries, industries, operational modes and company types among the MNEs operating in Australia. The authors also describe the shifting nature of Australia as a host location.


The authors demonstrate the historical and ongoing diversity of ways in which MNEs interact with a host. They show that different organisational forms have prevailed over time, and that considerable operational mode changes can best be observed when a long lens is adopted. The authors show how these mode changes interact with host country dynamics, and also the broader context of the MNE and its altering strategies.

Research limitations/implications

The authors urge IB scholars to embrace longer timeframes to capture the complexity of MNEs’ growth and adaptation more meaningfully.


By taking such a long-run perspective, the authors shed new light on the importance of moving beyond simple snapshots to analyse key IB constructs and phenomenon.



The authors gratefully acknowledge the assistance of Dr Claire Wright in compiling the FDI data.

Funding: Australian Research Council: DP200101363.


Sammartino, A., Merrett, D., van der Eng, P. and Ville, S. (2023), "Taking the long view of the multinational", Multinational Business Review, Vol. 31 No. 1, pp. 1-18.



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