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Stephen Hymer: Life and the Political Economy of Multinational Corporate Capital

Listed author(s):
  • Christos N. Pitelis

This paper provides a short account of Stephen Hymer's life and (its link to) his contribution to the theory of the multinational enterprise (MNE), but mainly the political economy of multinational corporate capital. It suggests that as concerns the theory of the MNE, Hymer's contribution has in effect predated most current extant theory. His contribution to the political economy of multinational capital, the focus here, is less known, yet of extraordinary insight and foresight. Hymer predates most important debates on what today is called 'globalisation' and came up with analysis of the highest quality and predictions which in the main have stood the test of time. The chief limitation in Hymer's work stems from a tendency to emphasise the monopoly attributes of large MNEs, and the inefficiency and inequity of 'multinational corporate capital'. In part because of this tendency, some of his later work involved predictions that did not necessarily and/or fully follow from his analytical framework, were shaped by 'ideology' and were of varying agrees of accuracy. Despite limitations, Hymer's overall contribution and impact fully deserves the almost 'cult' status he has acquired in the history of economic thought and international business scholarship. Copyright 2002, Oxford University Press.

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Article provided by Oxford University Press in its journal Contributions to Political Economy.

Volume (Year): 21 (2002)
Issue (Month): 1 (December)
Pages: 9-26

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Handle: RePEc:oup:copoec:v:21:y:2002:i:1:p:9-26
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