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Global Capitalism, FDI and Competitiveness

The Selected Essays of John H. Dunning, Volume II

John H. Dunning

Global Capitalism, FDI and Competitiveness comprises 15 of John Dunning’s most widely acknowledged writings on the changing characteristics of the global economy over the past three decades. In particular, it examines how these events have shaped, and been shaped by, the growing internationalization of all forms of business activity.
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Chapter 12: The Geographical Sources of the Competitiveness of Firms

John H. Dunning


* INTRODUCTION This chapter presents some of the results of a new field study on the geographical sources of firm-specific competitiveness,1 as perceived by executives of 144 of the world’s 500 largest industrial corporations.2 Full details of the sample and the way in which the survey was organized are set out in the appendix to this chapter. In 1993, the sample firms were responsible for two-fifths of the global sales of the largest 500 industrial corporations and nearly two-fifths of the foreign direct investment (FDI) stake in all primary and secondary economic activity. For some sectors (e.g. autos, petroleum refining, tobacco, electronics and computers) and for some countries (e.g. Japan, Sweden and the United Kingdom), our coverage is particularly good; for others, it is less so, but from the country and sector groups presented in this chapter, it is entirely acceptable. The purpose of the field survey was to gain the opinions of senior business executives3 about the geographical origin of the kind of firm-specific competitive advantages or core competencies4 identified by the literature.5 There has been much debate, in recent years, over the extent to which the competitive advantages of firms stem from the location-bound characteristics of their home countries – some of which may be internalized by the firms themselves – or whether, as FDI and strategic alliances have become increasingly directed to acquiring created assets,6 and as firms (and, particularly, the larger and established MNEs) have been increasing their degree of multinationality,7 competitive advantages have been increasingly...

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