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How important is regional vs. global scope? An examination of U.S. multinationals

Abstract

Beginning with Rugman and Verbeke (J Int Bus Stud 35(1):3–18, 2004), several international business (IB) scholars have proposed that most large multinationals are not global but regional. This argument has recently been challenged for both its conceptualization and its implementation. We aim to contribute to this debate by revisiting the definitions of regional and global, by leveraging data from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis that is new to this literature, and by analyzing multinationals’ scope in terms of both sales and production. We find that U.S. multinationals are significantly more global than has previously been acknowledged in the IB literature.

Résumé

En commençant par Rugman et Verbeke (2004), plusieurs spécialistes de l’international business (IB) ont proposé que la plupart des grandes multinationales ne sont pas mondiales mais régionales. Cet argument a récemment été remis en question tant pour sa conceptualisation que pour sa mise en œuvre. En nous appuyant sur les données du Bureau of Economic Analysis des États-Unis - qui sont nouvelles dans cette littérature - et en analysant la portée des multinationales en termes de ventes et de production, notre objectif est de contribuer à ce débat en réexaminant les définitions des termes régional et mondial. Nous constatons que les multinationales américaines sont beaucoup plus mondiales que ce qui a été reconnu dans la littérature de l’IB.

Resumen

Comenzando con Rugman y Verbeke (2004), varios académicos de negocios internacionales (IB por sus iniciales en inglés) han propuesto que la mayoría de las multinacionales no son globales sino regionales. Este argumento ha sido cuestionado recientemente tanto en su conceptualización como en su implementación. Nuestro objetivo es contribuir a este debate revisitando las definiciones de regional y global, apalancándonos en los datos de la Oficina de Análisis Económico de los Estados Unidos que son nuevos en esta literatura, y analizando el alcance de las multinacionales en términos de ventas y producción. Encontramos que las multinacionales estadounidenses son significativamente más globales de lo que se ha reconocido en la literatura de negocios internacionales.

Resumo

Começando com Rugman e Verbeke (2004), vários acadêmicos de negócios internacionais (IB) propuseram que a maioria das grandes multinacionais não é global, mas regional. Esse argumento foi recentemente contestado tanto por sua conceituação quanto por sua implementação. Nosso objetivo é contribuir para esse debate revisitando as definições de regional e global, e fazendo uso de dados do Bureau of Economic Analysis dos EUA que são novos nesta literatura e analisando o escopo de multinacionais em termos de vendas e produção. Constatamos que multinacionais dos EUA são significativamente mais globais do que se reconhecia anteriormente na literatura de IB.

Chinese

从Rugman和Verbeke(2004)开始, 数位国际商务(IB)学者就提出, 大多数的大型跨国公司不是全球性的, 而是地区性的。这一论点最近在其概念化和实施方面都受到了挑战。我们旨在通过重新审视区域和全球的定义, 利用来自美国经济分析署的最新文献资料, 以及通过分析跨国公司的销售和生产的范围, 为这场辩论做出贡献。我们发现, 美国跨国公司的全球性要比IB文献以前承认的要大得多。

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ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

Statistical analysis of firm-level data on U.S. multinational companies was conducted at the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) of the U.S. Department of Commerce under arrangements that maintain legal confidentiality requirements. Views expressed in this paper do not reflect those of the BEA or of the U.S. Department of Commerce. We thank the editor and anonymous reviewers and the participants at the Academy of International Business annual meeting for helpful comments. All remaining errors are our own.

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Correspondence to Yujin Jeong.

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Supplementary information accompanies this article on the Journal of International Business Studies website (www.palgrave.com/journals).

Accepted by Peter Liesch, Area Editor, 9 November 2019. This article has been with the authors for four revisions.

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Jeong, Y., Siegel, J.I. How important is regional vs. global scope? An examination of U.S. multinationals. J Int Bus Stud 51, 1142–1160 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1057/s41267-019-00298-6

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Keywords

  • global scope
  • regional scope
  • MNEs
  • sales
  • production