From national monopoly to Multinational Corporation: how regulation shaped the road towards telecommunications internationalization
One of the consequences of major regulatory reform of the telecommunications sector from the end of the 1970s – particularly, privatization, liberalization and deregulation – was the establishment of a new business environment which permitted former national telecommunications monopolies to expand internationally. From the 1990s, a number of these firms, particularly those based in Europe, joined the rankings of the world’s leading Multinational Corporations. Their internationalization was uneven, however: while some firms internationalised strongly, others went abroad much slower. This article explores how the regulatory framework within which telecommunications incumbents evolved over the long-term helped shape their subsequent, uneven, paths to internationalization. Two cases 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 international ventures failed and, with decline domestic shares, forced the firm to partial de-internationalization, becoming the least international of the large European incumbents. Long-term ownership, access to capital, management style and exposure to liberalization strongly influenced firms’ approaches to internationalization.
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