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Multinational Corporations and Foreign Direct InvestmentAvoiding Simplicity, Embracing Complexity$
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Stephen D. Cohen

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780195179354

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2007

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195179354.001.0001

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 An Agnostic Conclusion

 An Agnostic Conclusion

“It Depends”

(p.332) 14 An Agnostic Conclusion
Multinational Corporations and Foreign Direct Investment

Stephen D. Cohen

Oxford University Press

By integrating the major themes and arguments of this study, this chapter seeks to make a convincing case for an innovative method of analyzing and evaluating MNCs and FDI, a method that is distinctive as well as more apposite and relevant than the long-standing propensity to generalize that as a whole, they are either good or bad. Emphasis is on the heterogeneity and “it depends” concepts, along with the admonitions to disaggregate and respect the dominance of perceptions over hard facts. The main sections of the chapter argue that the generalized question about the desirability or lack thereof of MNCs and FDI needs to be restated to produce more accurate answers, urge a greater recognition of the limits and frequent ambiguity of the data, and criticize the too-frequently used methodology of selecting a limited number of anecdotes to support preconceived conclusions. A concluding section offers specific criticism of the decades-long, inconclusive public debate over the impact of multinational enterprises, e.g., its failure to recognize that the impact of a newly established foreign subsidiary will reflect where it falls on the continuum between high and low quality investment, and the importance of pre-existing value judgments in influencing the findings of anyone writing on MNCs and FDI.

Keywords:   methodology, heterogeneity, disaggregation of data, perceptions, value judgments

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