Clash"" would appear to be the wrong word; ""awakening"" more precisely, describes what Stephenson has in mind. He argues...

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THE COMING CLASH: The Impact of the International Corporation on the Nation State

Clash"" would appear to be the wrong word; ""awakening"" more precisely, describes what Stephenson has in mind. He argues that the multinational corporations -- new capitalist ""leviathans"" sprung up during the postwar era -- are willy-nilly altering the world economic system, a development which both national governments and trade unions have either ignored or not yet completely grasped. And the ""lesson"" of the essay, ""for nationalists and socialists alike,"" is that ""a single nation state, exercising its sovereign rights, now lacks the scope effectively to match that of truly international companies."" Indeed, so influential have the unregulated multinationals become, says Stephenson, that individual countries are gradually being deprived by fiat of direct control over their economies -- the traditional mechanisms for economic regulation (e.g., the tariff power) being ""undermined."" Specialists will recognize this as a much more forceful and less hedged position than Raymond Vernon's in Sovereignty at Bay (1971) which examined the same question. Stephenson proposes no solutions; in fact, and this is rather surprising, he approves the current trend, calling the multinational corporation ""the only organism which has found the capacity to emerge from the restrictive and increasingly irrelevant chrysalis of the nation state"". The growth of supranational economic muscle might be a step toward a true internationalism, but Stephenson has oversimplified the impact as well as the potential. Vernon's ongoing Harvard study (Stopford and Wells' Managing the Multinational Enterprise p. 617, the second of four volumes) provides a much more reasoned assessment.

Pub Date: Nov. 6, 1972

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Saturday Review Press

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 1972