Ontology and IB: Re-Imagining the Multinational

Philosophy of Science and Meta-Knowledge in International Business and Management

ISBN: 978-1-78190-712-2, eISBN: 978-1-78190-713-9

ISSN: 1571-5027

Publication date: 30 May 2013


Setting the multinational enterprise (MNE) apart on the basis of a weakly specified idea of foreignness may impede progress in international business (IB). The discipline lacks a paradigm to assimilate the idea of foreignness as an incident of internationality, a global condition describing the political context within which the MNE functions and which confers uniqueness on that institution. However, a plausible re-imagining of the MNE is possible and useful, and here a candidate for such an ontological shift is proffered. Rather than a firm struggling in one or more foreign contexts, the MNE is reconstructed as a foreigner contending with the responsibilities of a firm. The proposed re-imagining of the MNE is experimentally substituted for the received ontology in different IB research contexts. It transpires that this ontological revision maintains intelligibility in those contexts while usefully exposing new directions in which to pursue knowledge. In consequence of re-imagining the MNE, that institution may be situated more precisely amid the international system’s primal constituents, and links may be more effectively established with other bodies of research addressing the functioning of the international political economic system.


Burmester, B. (2013), "Ontology and IB: Re-Imagining the Multinational", Devinney, T., Pedersen, T. and Tihanyi, L. (Ed.) Philosophy of Science and Meta-Knowledge in International Business and Management (Advances in International Management, Vol. 26), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 197-218. https://doi.org/10.1108/S1571-5027(2013)0000026013

Download as .RIS



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2013, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Please note you might not have access to this content

You may be able to access this content by login via Shibboleth, Open Athens or with your Emerald account.
If you would like to contact us about accessing this content, click the button and fill out the form.