Back to the Future
Chapter 2: If Hymer Were Writing Now with Christos N. Pitelis
2. If Hymer were writing now1 With Christos N. Pitelis 1. INTRODUCTION Stephen Hymer was born in 1934, and died in a car accident 40 years later. In his short life he made several seminal and lasting contributions to the theory of the multinational enterprise (MNE), foreign direct investment (FDI) and ‘multinational corporate capital’. Most particularly, he was one of the first economists to explore the relationship between the ‘microcosm’ of the territorial expansion of firms, and its consequences for international development and MNE–host country relationships. Hymer first articulated his views on the determinants of FDI in his doctoral thesis, and later, together with his analysis of some of its characteristics and effects, in around 40 articles in leading economics and political economy journals. Of these, perhaps the most influential and frequently cited have been his thesis, completed at MIT in 1960 and eventually published in 1976; an article he wrote in French in 1968; a 1970 American Economic Review (AER) article; and another 1970 contribution to a book collection edited by J.N. Bhagwati on MNEs and ‘uneven development’, where he summarised and extended some of his views on the impact of FDI on the economic and social goals of developing countries (Hymer, 1960, 1976, 1968, 1970a, b). The aim of this chapter is to consider whether and how Hymer’s views on both the determinants and consequences of MNE activity might have changed if he were writing now – in the early years of the 21st century. In his absence,...
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