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Bargains old and new: multinational corporations in global governance

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This paper outlines an approach for understanding the role of multinational corporations (MNCs) in global governance. We develop a typology of regime types with two dimensions, the goal of the regime, which can be market enabling or regulatory, and the location of authority, which can be national, regional, or international, with public and private elements. MNCs tend to support the creation of market enabling regimes at the international level, and prefer to keep social or environmental regulation under national or private authority. However, these are only generalizations and MNCs develop preferences based on their relative influence in various arenas, the costs of political participation, and competitive considerations. We argue that institutions of global governance represent the outcome of a series of negotiations among corporations, states, and non-state actors. The preferences and power of MNCs vary across issues and sectors, and from one negotiating forum to another, accounting for the uneven and fragmented nature of the resulting system. Our approach differs from the traditional FDI bargaining framework in that it recognizes the multi-party nature of negotiations and multiple sources of power. Moreover, the complexity and dynamic nature of the process results in a somewhat indeterminate process.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: University of Massachusetts, Boston, University of Washington-Seattle

Publication date: August 1, 2003

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