A critical re-evaluation of Hymer’s contribution to the theory of the transnational corporation
In Yamin (1991), we provided a reassessment of Hymer’s contribution to the theory of the transnational corporation (TNC) shaped largely by the debate in the mid-1980s relating to the nature of market imperfections that were held to be the drivers of the TNC. Dunning and Rugman (1985) and Casson (1987), for example, had criticised Hymer for over-emphasising structural market imperfections at the expense of transaction costs, although even in his doctoral dissertation, Hymer (1960, published in 1976) did not totally ignore transaction costs (Yamin, 1991:74). Furthermore, in a paper written in 1968 (that came to light in 1990) he explicitly utilised Coase’s framework. Partly as a result of the discovery of this paper, it is now generally acknowledged that Hymer is the pioneer of the economic theory of the multinational company (Horaguchi and Toyne, 1990). It is significant that John Dunning, commenting on the early theoretical work on TNCs, has recently remarked that ‘considering Hymer’s work as a whole, he has probably come nearest to identifying the ingredients of a general theory’ (Dunning, 1996:33).