It is common to discuss multinationals as though they constitute a unified, single entity. This chapter unpacks that conception in two ways. Firstly, it shows that multinational corporations (MNCs) have become very complex organizational entities. The nature of their internationalization varies greatly in terms of the location of their assets, their people, their supply chains and their sources of funding. The impact of financialization and the drive to minimize tax liabilities by taking advantage of tax havens and legal arbitrage has created a shadow reality based on shell offices, opaque trust funds and special purpose financial vehicles which are connected to the MNC in various ways. Secondly, the chapter shows that this complexity leads to the formation of different interest groups within the MNC, especially between those actors embedded in the corporate headquarters (HQ) and those in local subsidiaries. The ability of local actors to resist, adapt or conform to HQ demands, drawing on a range of political and institutional resources, is explored in the chapter.
Glenn Morgan and Heike Doering
The Varieties of Capitalism approach to employment relationships examines how institutional context impacts on firms’ strategies and structures. It identifies key institutions and institutional complementarities that shape firm behaviour including, as is the focus here, the production and regulation of labour. This chapter outlines how different varieties of capital differentially invest in and treat labour, with implications for the relationships between labour, its deployment within the production process, the role of skills, labour mobility and negotiation of wages and employment benefits, and different national trajectories of economic development. The chapter concludes by outlining scope for further development and emphasizing the approach as a theory of incentives and institutional complementarities, rather than a descriptive tool.