Course Materials

Course Description

This course examines the evolving relationship between Multinational Corporations (MNCs) and states in the modern era, evaluating the perceived benefits and costs of foreign direct investment in a number of selected countries, regions, and industries. Our primary objectives are to assess the impact of MNCs on the politics, economies, and societies of states, and to evaluate the effectiveness or desirability of various attempts to control, limit, and regulate MNC behaviour. Special attention is paid to countries, industries, and practices where the potential for exploitation and conflict is greatest.


The course meets twice weekly (Tuesday/Thursday) for 1:50 minutes and, because of its large size, is structured around lectures. But students are asked to do the required weekly reading prior to class and encouraged to discuss lecture and reading content.


Previous completion of an introductory course in international relations (e.g. POLI 260 or its equivalent) is not required but very strongly recommended. The course assumes familiarity with the basic concepts covered in that or similar course.

Learning Objectives

Students who successfully complete the course will be able to:

  • describe and define multinational corporations (MNCs) and situate/analyze their activities as a relatively new and distinct phenomena within the international political economy (IPE)
  • understand and analyze various motivations for foreign direct investment (FDI), and recognize FDI as the defining activity of MNCs
  • construct a working definition of IPE, its main theories, and theĀ  role of state/market forces in creating the conditions and limits for MNC growth
  • explain the historical origins for MNCs, and their distinctiveness from similar but distinct precursors (like mercantile trading firms)
  • understand the motivations and content of state policies around MNCs at both the general level of developed and developing country concerns, and country specific policies including Canada, the US, and Japan
  • understand the complexity and changing nature of global governance structures and the role of MNCs in shifting locations of governance
  • demonstrate a grasp of the empirical forces behind globalization as an emergent historical condition
  • understand the motivations, historical/political conditions, limitations, and outcomes of governmental strategies to attract, deter, or manage MNCs (including Import Substitution Industrialization (ISI), Export Promotion, and investment screening mechanisms
  • understand the ideological foundations for views for and against MNC expansion
  • demonstrate a working knowledge of the main theoretical models of MNC origin and behaviour

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