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From national monopoly to multinational corporation: How regulation shaped the road towards telecommunications internationalisation

  • Judith Clifton
  • Francisco Comín
  • Daniel Díaz-Fuentes

One of the consequences of major regulatory reform of the telecommunications sector from the end of the 1970s -- particularly, privatisation, liberalisation and deregulation -- was the establishment of a new business environment which permitted former national telecommunications monopolies to expand abroad. From the 1990s, a number of these firms, particularly those based in Europe, joined the rankings of the world's leading multinational corporations. Their internationalisation was uneven, however: while some firms internationalised strongly, others ventured abroad much slower. This article explores how the regulatory framework within which telecommunications incumbents evolved over the long-term shaped their subsequent, uneven, paths to internationalisation. Two case studies representing ‘maximum variation’ are selected: Telefónica, whose early and unrelenting expansion transformed it into one of the world's most international of multinational corporations, and BT, whose overseas ventures failed and, with eroding domestic market share, forced the firm to partially retreat, becoming the least international of the large European incumbents. Long-term ownership, access to capital, management style and exposure to liberalisation strongly influenced firms' approaches to internationalisation.

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File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1080/00076791.2011.599588
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Article provided by Taylor & Francis Journals in its journal Business History.

Volume (Year): 53 (2011)
Issue (Month): 5 (August)
Pages: 761-781

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Handle: RePEc:taf:bushst:v:53:y:2011:i:5:p:761-781
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  1. Bel, Germà & Trillas, Francesc, 2005. "Privatization, corporate control and regulatory reform: the case of Telefonica," Telecommunications Policy, Elsevier, vol. 29(1), pages 25-51, February.
  2. Clifton, Judith & Díaz-Fuentes, Daniel, 2008. "Evaluating EU policies on public services: a citizens´ perspective," MPRA Paper 9420, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  3. Svein Ulset, 2008. "The rise and fall of global network alliances," Industrial and Corporate Change, Oxford University Press, vol. 17(2), pages 267-300, April.
  4. Antonelli, Cristiano, 1995. "Localized Technological Change in the Network of Networks: The Interaction between Regulation and the Evolution of Technology in Telecommunications," Industrial and Corporate Change, Oxford University Press, vol. 4(4), pages 737-54.
  5. Massimo Florio, 2003. "Does privatisation matter? The long-term performance of British Telecom over 40 years," Fiscal Studies, Institute for Fiscal Studies, vol. 24(2), pages 197-234, June.
  6. Chari, Anusha & Gupta, Nandini, 2008. "Incumbents and protectionism: The political economy of foreign entry liberalization," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 88(3), pages 633-656, June.
  7. Goldstein Andrea E., 2000. "Corporate Governance and Regulation in Privatized Utilities: Telecommunications in Four European Countries," Business and Politics, De Gruyter, vol. 2(2), pages 1-36, August.
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