This book has explored how entrepreneurs and firms can be included in narratives of the making of the modern world. Today’s complex world combines unrelenting globalization, symbolized by the web and other technologies which permit instantaneous sharing of information between locations anywhere on the planet, with growing yearnings for local identity, manifested everywhere from regional independence movements in long-established European nation states like Spain and Britain to the revival of interest in local beauty ideals. As citizens, business leaders, and politicians struggle to comprehend the complexity, understanding how we reached this situation matters, as does what the past can tell us about the likely trajectories of the future. It has been shown here how business enterprises have been important actors in the making of this world over the last two centuries. They were not black boxes responding to exogenous factors such as government policies, institutions, or resource endowments. Individual entrepreneurs and managers invented new products and shaped consumer demand. The firms they created diffused technologies and products, alongside the values in which they were embedded. They facilitated globalization by creating trade flows, constructing marketing channels, and building infrastructure. When governments attempted to reverse globalization, firms redesigned their international businesses rather than abandon them. MNEs preserved dimensions of globalization even as governments closed down flows of trade and capital across borders.
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