chapter
19 Pages

Introduction

Multinational Enterprise in the Century of Total War and Cold War: Political Risk and Organisational Change
ByNeil Forbes, Takafumi Kurosawa, Ben Wubs

In 1989, after the fall of the Berlin Wall, Francis Fukuyama predicted ‘The End of History’ and the victory of liberal market institutions all of over the world. 1 His predictions in the seminal article and his renowned book, which was published three year later, show, however, at least one thing: making predictions of such magnitude is impossible. The world has changed since his publications, but in the opposite direction of what was predicted. Rather than liberal institutions conquering the world, authoritarian-style governments and economic nationalism appeared to be gaining the upper hand, and clearly history did not come to an end either. Furthermore, a separation of the economic and political dimension has not taken place, and in the last decade we are actually observing a return to a political economy in which the political dimensions have become inseparable from the economic and business ones. The hand did not ‘vanish’ or become ‘invisible’; on the contrary, it has become obvious again how powerful and formative political action can be. 2 Social scientists have discussed the role of institutions in order to understand better the role of markets; but the impact of non-market elements, such as protectionism, nationalism and war, have been largely ignored, particularly in the last 30 years. Nevertheless, relatively recent developments have shown how volatile international business can be and how important it is to assess political risks. In recent years, expressions of populist ‘revolt’ and nationalist sentiment on both sides of the Atlantic have seriously challenged the post-war order built on Western, liberal values. It has become crystal clear that studying international business and the organisational structures of multinational enterprises (MNEs) is well nigh impossible without taking the state of international relations into account. This book aims, therefore, to demonstrate that non-market conditions have played a role in the global organisation of international business in the course of the 19th and 20th centuries.