STORM OVER THE MULTINATIONALS: The Real Issues by Raymond Vernon


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Burdened with a title that promises more than the text delivers, this study briefly examines the tensions engendered by the multinational corporations at large in the narrowing world. Owing to the ubiquity and visibility of their economic might, multinationals have become convenient targets for not only have-not countries but also Western industrial powers. Specifically at issue is accountability since, beyond a certain point, neither affluent nor less-developed nations exercise effective control over their ongoing operations. Vernon's coverage of this touchy area is commendably objective. However, he fails to explore in any great depth many of the more interesting points that are raised. Invariably, for example, multinationals develop new products close to home, thereby depriving host countries of access to technology while using exports to exploit their potential as markets. This vital topic is dismissed in less than two pages. Likewise, Vernon brushes off the increasing disaffection of North Americans and Europeans with industrialization itself. On the plus side of the ledger, he offers lucid and convincing commentary on how the power of individual concerns is being eroded as new rivals thrust their way into the international arena. Also worthwhile is a section on the bafflingly casual fashion in which the US government discomfited American-based multinationals with revelations of payoffs and certain other of free enterprise's less savory business practices. On balance, however, Vernon's survey is no more than an instructive preface to the larger work that someday must be written.

Pub Date: June 1st, 1977
Publisher: Harvard Univ. Press