The Corporate Citizen National vs. Transnational Economic Strategies

Transnationalism isn't a term that is familiar to the American people. According to Peter Drucker, a leading advocate of transnationalism, a transnational company is one that operates in the global marketplace; that does its research wherever there are scientists and technicians, and manufactures where economics dictate (in many countries, that is); and that has a management that doesn't feel any allegiance to the economic or national security interests of the country in which it is incorporated. It obtains its financing from institutions around the world. In short, it regards itself as a free agent in a global economy.

The transnational company represents a mutation of the multinational. American companies have had foreign subsidiaries for many decades, and the American multinational has been built around the national interest of the United States. But some such companies are moving from multinational to transnational, and in doing so are consciously discarding their basic American orientation.

A case in point is the NCR Corporation. On April 12, 1989, economics columnist Hobart Rowen of the Washington Post quoted Gilbert Williamson, president of NCR, as saying, "I was asked the other day about competitiveness. I replied that I don't think about it at all. We at NCR think of ourselves as a globally competitive company that happens to be headquartered in the United States."


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