Globalization, development, and history in the work of Edith Penrose

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Journal Article
Business History Review, 2011, 85 (1), pp. 65 - 84
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Edith Penrose's work on the multinational enterprise and the political economy of globalization and development is assessed as it relates to her views on business history. This essay was written on the occasion of the fiftieth anniversary of Penrose's classic 1959 book and her 1960 prize-winning paper on Hercules Powder, which was published in the Review. Penrose came close to providing a theory of "internalization," compared foreign direct investment to market-type contracting relations, and even discussed transaction costs-related arguments. However, she largely accepted the existence of firms and did not examine why firms exist vis-à-vis alternatives, such as markets. Her views on the political economy of globalization, relations between multinational enterprise and the state, and development have proved to be incisive, mostly accurate, and ahead of their time. © 2011 The President and Fellows of Harvard College.
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