Article | Zeitschrift für Unternehmensgeschichte | 2006

The End of Nationality? Global Firms and 'Borderless Worlds'

by G. Jones

Abstract

This article provides a historical perspective to current debates whether large global firms are becoming "stateless" and whether this is a historically new phenomenon. It shows that a great deal of international business in the nineteenth century was not easily fitted into national categories. The place of registration, the nationality of shareholders, and the nationality of management could and quite often did point in different directions. During the twentieth century such "cosmopolitan capitalism" was replaced by sharper national identities. However the interwar disintegration of the international economy led to the subsidiaries of multinationals taking on stronger local identities and becoming "hybrids." Over the past two decades, as the pace of globalization quickened, ambiguities increased again, especially if the focus is the "nationality" of products and services. Yet ownership, location and geography still matter enormously in global business.

Keywords: Business Subsidiaries; Multinational Firms and Management; Trade; Ownership; International Finance; Economic Systems; International Accounting; Globalized Economies and Regions; Geographic Location; Nationality Characteristics; Boundaries; Global Strategy;

Citation:

Jones, G. "The End of Nationality? Global Firms and 'Borderless Worlds'." Zeitschrift für Unternehmensgeschichte 51, no. 2 (2006): 149–166.