Section 001   2nd Term   T/TH   14:00-15:30

Location: Buchanan A, Room 203

Instructor: Robert M. A. Crawford
 Office Hours: Tuesday 1:00 to 2:00 pm—IBLC 374
Thursday 1:00 to 2:00 pm—IBLC 374
 Phone: 604-822-3009
Course blog: POLI372A2020 All course related materials will be hosted here
Canvas: this course does NOT use a Canvas site
TA: Lilit Klein
Office Hours: available via e-mail booking
Location: TBD

Course Description & Format

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 mainly around lectures. I do however like and welcome students interaction, and make an effort to include participation as much as possible. 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. This is NOT an Economics or Business course but will involve discussion of basic concepts germane to these fields.

Course Readings

The majority of required course reading is from a custom course reading package that will soon be available for purchase at the UBC Bookstore.

Other required readings are available through free hyperlinks embedded in the week by week summaries below. Please note that some of these readings may require you to use your UBC CWL to gain institutional access to JSTOR, or a free account like @ or similar.

Further reading is always welcome but optional. Suggestions for further reading may be posted periodically on the course blog page. Feel free to ask me for suggestions for further reading at any time.

Assessment and Assignments

Midterm: You will write a midterm in class on Thursday, February 13 and be responsible for all material covered prior to the exam. The midterm format will be discussed in class and a sample exam will be distributed and/or posted to my course blog. This assignment makes up a maximum 25% of your final grade.

Research essay proposal: you will write a proposal of 2-3 pages (excluding bibliography) in which you make a case for a particular topic for your final paper. This must be based on one of a selected topic provided by myself or you may make a case for a topic and area of focus of your own. Please be sure to provide a provisional title, rationale, preliminary overview of your argument, and indicative reading list (e.g. a bibliography of all the sources you have located so far). The purpose of the assignment is to see how your ideas are developing, assess feasibility, and receive instructor feedback about what, if any, gaps need to be filled in terms of research and/or conceptualization. You do not need to go through your sources one by one, or provide a detailed breakdown of the planned structure of the paper. Please note that this is not meant to be a draft or mini version of the paper, but an early indication of where you are heading. This assignment is due Thursday, February 27 in-class, hard copy only please. Unlike the final paper, the proposal does not need to be submitted to TurnItIn. The assignment makes up a maximum 5% of your final grade.

Research Essay: You are required to write a research essay based on a set of topics to be made available early in the term. As noted above, you are also free to make a case for a topic and area of focus of your own in the proposal. The approximate length required is 3,500 to 4000 words (e.g. 14 to 15 typed pages). Please do not exceed 4000 words (for more guidance see Course Policy Statement below). This assignment makes up a maximum 35% of your final grade. The essay is due Tuesday, March 31. This is a late, end of term deadline and cannot be extended, so please take note of this get an early start.

Final Exam: There will be a final examination during the regular examination period. You will be accountable for the readings assigned for each class and all lecture material. The exam will be cumulative but weighted post-midterm. The exam format will be discussed in class and a sample final exam will be distributed and/or posted to my course blog. This assignment makes up a maximum 35% of your final grade.
Assessment at a Glance

Midterm 25% (Thursday, February 13)
Research Essay Proposal 5% (Thursday, February 27)
Research Essay 35% (Tuesday, March 31)
Final Exam 35% (TBA)

Course Policy Statement

Course materials & attendance: you are responsible for material covered in lectures, class discussions, and assigned readings. Regular attendance in class is expected. Please try to arrive on time and let me know beforehand if you need to leave early. If you miss classes (and you should not make a habit if doing so) PDFs of lecture slides will eventually be made available. But these are for study purposes and depend upon the actual lecture for context and full coherence. They are not intended to enable or encourage skipping class. And please refrain from sending this sort of email: “hey prof, I missed class. very sorry. could you send readings and assignments and tell me what I have to do?” or “did I mis anything important?” Just about everybody misses an occasional class, but please do not expect me or Lilit to offer personalized supplemental information.

Laptops & other devices: laptops have become a normal classroom resource but should only be as a note-taking device; you are asked to refrain from using them for any other purpose. Phones must be on silent or off during lecture. No texting, e-mailing, internet surfing, social media time etc., is permitted in class. Texting in class is particularly unacceptable, and very obvious and distracting.

Email: I welcome and respond as quickly as possible to emails, but complicated issues are best dealt with face-to-face. Please feel free to email but do not ask myself or the TA questions that you know cannot be properly answered in a short response.

Academic concessions: you are reminded that instructors cannot grant academic concession after assignment due dates. Medical, emotional, or personal problems that may arise during, and affect your performance in, the course should be discussed immediately with the Faculty of Arts Academic Advising Office (Buch. A201 604-822-4028). Students who miss examinations for non-medical reasons will not have an opportunity to rewrite. Medical exemptions will not be granted without proper documentation.

This course welcomes and seeks to accommodate students with physical or learning disabilities or challenges (e.g. visual, hearing, or speech impairments, or chronic illnesses). If you require any assistance or adaptation of teaching or evaluation styles, please feel free to discuss your needs with me and the UBC Access and Diversity office. Documentation from Access and Diversity must be provided early in the course.

Written submissions

Essays must be word processed, stapled, contain page numbers, and cite sources fully in an academically appropriate manner. You must use one of the following academic formats: APA, MLA or Chicago Style. Requests for extensions must be approved by the instructor at least three weeks before the due date and only granted for extraordinary situations, with adequate documentation. Extensions will not be given for typical and predictable problems such as computer and printer crashes, conflicts with other course assignments or extracurricular activities, oversleeping, roommate or other interpersonal difficulties. If you are a UBC student athlete please let me know as early as possible if you need to travel in ways that could interfere with attendance and deadlines. Unless prior approval was granted on the grounds noted above, late course work will be penalized 2% per day, weekends included. Assignments that are submitted after the end of the exam period will not be graded.

Academic honesty

Please note that any form of academic misconduct will not be tolerated. Be sure to retain all work used in the preparation of your assignments, and be ready to submit this work if and when I request that you do so. Plagiarism is a serious form of academic misconduct. Demonstrated cases are treated severely and, at a minimum, result in a mark of zero, and can lead to severe punishment including expulsion from UBC. It is your responsibility to be aware of what constitutes plagiarism; the following link will make clear university policy and help you to avoid all forms of academic misconduct (,54,111,959). To quote Morrissey: “If you must write prose and poems, the words you use should be your own; don’t plagiarize or take ‘on loan’; there’s always someone, somewhere, with a big nose who knows, and who trips you up a laughs when you fall….” (The Smiths, “Cemetery Gates,” The Queen is Dead, 1986). That “big nose” is called, and nobody will be laughing if you trip up.

The UBC Political Science Department requires that all undergraduate papers be submitted to TurnItIn, a service that compares submissions to thousands of published documents, essays-for-purchase, all other student papers submitted to the website, and so forth to detect levels of overlap in wording and generate “originality reports.” The service can and will even detect your own essays if they have been submitted previously or concurrently to other courses, which is not allowed without the knowledge and approval of all relevant instructors. You can find out more about TurnItIn, and the university’s policy on use of this service at: (more info).

To submit your assignment, log onto the site TurnItIn. Click on the “create a user profile” link and select “student” on the pull-down menu. To enrol, you will be asked to enter your “class ID” and “class enrolment password.” The information you will need is:

course ID: 23451942
password (enrolment key): GlobalReach (note that the password is case sensitive)

You will not receive credit for your essay unless it is submitted to TurnItIn. The due date of Thursday March 21 is the same for both TurnItIn and final copy that you submit (you will receive detailed instructions about how to submit your essay later). Please note that your paper will NOT be available to anyone to read as a public document—you do not need to worry about other students finding your paper on the internet and copying it for their own use. Again, retain all rough work used in the preparation of your assignments, and be ready to submit this work if and when you are requested to do so.

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 the 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
Lecture and Reading Schedule

PART ONE: New Actors, New Theories

Jan 7, 9           Introduction to Course: Emergence and Evolution of the MNC
Discussion: the evolution, rationale, and purposes of the course; preliminary assessment of MNCs as political actors; the historical development of the MNC, conflicting claims about its origins, various stages and geographical centres of development, and role in transforming the international political-economic system.

Readings (handout)
HYPERLINK Juliette Bennett (2002) “MNCs, Social Responsibility and Conflict,” Journal of International Affairs, 55, 2 (Bennett PDF)

Jan 14, 15           The MNC: Political or Economic actor?
An overview of the evolving academic discussion of the MNC that assesses its transformation from a literature dominated by state-centric approaches—with its exclusion of MNCs as merely “economic” actors—to a much wider, diverse, and increasingly cross-disciplinary discourse that regards MNCs as crucial subjects and agents of global governance.

HYPERLINK John Stopford (1999) “Multinational Corporations,” Foreign Policy, 113 (Stopford PDF)
HYPERLINK Susan Strange (1991) “Big Business and the State,” Millennium, 20, 2 (1991) (Strange PDF)
HYPERLINK Raymond Vernon (1991) “Sovereignty at Bay: Twenty Years After,” Millennium, 20, 2
HYPERLINK Peter Evans (1997) “The Eclipse of the State? Reflections on Stateness in the Era of Globalization,” World Politics, 50 (Evans PDF)

Jan 21, 23            New Explanations for New Realities: Representative Models
As new actors, MNCs demand theorization, particularly when existing capital movement theories proved ill-suited to the reality of FDI as the dominant mode of investment. This week surveys and critically evaluates theoretical, conceptual, and analytical attempts to explain the behaviour of MNCs after their rise to prominence in the 1960s.


COURSEPACK Joan Spero and Jeffrey Hart (1997) “The Multinational Corporation and the Issue of Management,” from The Politics of International Economic Relations, New York: St. Martin’s.
COURSEPACK Susan Strange (1994) “Rethinking Structural Change in the International Political Economy: States, Firms, and Diplomacy,” from Richard Stubbs and Geoffrey Underhill, Political Economy and the Changing Global Order, Toronto: McLelland and Stewart.

Jan 28, 30            US Power and Multinational Corporations
Examines America’s foreign economic objectives, assesses the role and depth of corporate influence in the policy-making process, and examines US concerns, attitudes, and policies as the world’s largest host of inward FDI.

COURSEPACK Robert Gilpin (1975) “The American Strategy of Direct Investment,” chapters 5 and 6 from US Power and The Multinational Corporation.
HYPERLINK  Jonathan Crystal (1998) A New Kind of Competition: How American Producers Respond to Incoming FDI,” International Studies Quarterly 42: 513-54 (
COURSEPACK Stephen Brooks (2007) chapter 2, “Understanding the Globalization of Production,” from Producing Security, Princeton: Princeton University Press.
HYPERLINK Parag Khanna, “These 25 Companies Are More Powerful Than Many Countries? Going stateless to maximize profits, multinational companies are vying with governments for global power. Who is winning? Foreign Policy, March/April 2016 (Khanna PDF)

PART TWO: Issue Areas

Feb 4, 6           Regulatory Responses and Options: From Confrontation to Pragmatism
Examines early questions about how, or if, to control MNC activities. Explores regulatory responses both historically and in terms of recent trends, ranging from national to international strategies, spanning a number of issue-areas, and encompassing more to less ambitious conceptions of an international investment “regime(s).” We also examine the evolving relationship between MNCs and NGOs and the alternative conceptions of globalization and the corporate form proposed by the latter.

HYPERLINK David Levy and Aseem Prakash (2002) “Bargains Old and New: Multinational Corporations in Global Governance,” Business and Politics Vol. 5, No. 2 (Levy PDF)
HYPERLINK Shean Murphy (2005) “Taking Multinational Corporate Codes of Conduct to the Next Level,” GWLaw Commons, 43 (Murphy PDF)
Stephen Kobrin (1998) “The MAI and the Clash of Globalizations,” Foreign Policy ???? ( Kobrin PDF)
HYPERLINK Kathryn Sikkink (1986) “Codes of Conduct for TNCs: The Case of the WHO?UNICEF Code,” International Organization 40, 4: 815-840 (Sikkink PDF)
COURSEPACK John Madely (1999) chapters 1 & 2 Big Business, Poor Peoples, London: Zed books.

Feb 11, 13            MNCs and the evolution of Global Governance
Examines the evolving debate, roles, and responsibilities of MNCs as providers of governance functions once reserved only for states.


HYPERLINK Patrick Bernhagen (2010) “The Private Provision of Public Goods,” International Studies Quarterly 54: 1175-1187 (Bernhagen PDF)
Klaus Dingwerth (2008) “Private Transnational Governance in the Developing World, International Studies Quarterly, 52: 607-634.
HYPERLINK Stephen Kobrin (January 2008) “Private Political Authority and Public Responsibility: Transnational Politics, Transnational Firms, and Human Rights,” Forthcoming: Business Ethics Quarterly, 2009. (Kobrin PDF)
COURSEPACK Susan Sell and Aseem Prakash (2004) “Using Ideas Strategically: The Contest Between Big Business and NGO Networks Intellectual Property Rights,” International Studies Quarterly 48: 143-175.
COURSEPACK Manfred Steger (2012) “Anti-Globalization or Alter-Globalization? Mapping the Political Ideology of the Global Justice Movement,” International Studies Quarterly 56: 439-454.

Reading Week: February 18-21

Feb 25, 27          MNCs and Security

Explores the hypothesis that the globalization of production can lessen the potential for armed conflict both through creating economic interdependencies (e.g. via Regional Trade Agreements) and forcing a redefinition of security in light of fundamental changes that MNCs—among other actors—have brought about.

Stephen Brooks (2007) chapter 4 from Producing Security, Princeton: Princeton University Press.
COURSEPACK Yee-Kuang Heng and Kenneth McDonagh (2009) “Risk, Global Governance and Security,” in Risk, Global Governance and Security: The Other War on Terror, London: Routledge.
HYPERLINK Small Arms Survey, “Protected but Exposed: Multinationals and Private Security,” chapter 5, Annual Report 2011 (Private Security PDF)

March 3, 5         Corporate Social Responsibility Networks
Explores the emergence and evolution of the CSR discourse and the extent to which MNCs are being (or should be) transformed into purveyors of social goods, and the role of the post-1948 international legal framework in perpetuating inequalities among marginalized groups, and Indigenous communities in particular. It also extends analysis of the CSR process into its most ambitious project to date: The Global Compact and “Ruggie Principles.”

HYPERLINK Matthias Hofferberth et. al. (2011) “Multinational Enterprises as “Social Actors”—Constructivist Explanations for Corporate Social Responsibility” Global Society 25, 2: 205-226 (Hofferberth PDF)
HYPERLINK Gerardo J. Munarriz (2008) “Rhetoric and Reality: The World Bank Development Policies, Mining Corporations, and Indigenous Communities in Latin America,” International Community Law Review, 10: 431–443 (Munarriz PDF)
COURSEPACK Colin Barry, Chad Clay, and Michael Flynn (2013) Avoiding the Spotlight: Rights Shaming and Foreign Direct Investment,” International Studies Quarterly, 57: 532-544.
COURSEPACK John Ruggie (2013) Introduction and chapters 1 and 4, Just Business: MNCs and Human Rights, New York: WW Norton.
COURSEPACK Simon Blanton (2009) “A Sectoral Analysis of Human Rights and FDI: Does Industry Type Matter? International Studies Quarterly 53: 469-493.

PART THREE: MNCs and home/host policies of selected states

March 10, 12          Canada

This week begins a focus on a comparative assessment of past and present policies in a country-specific context, beginning with Canada, highlighting initiatives like the Foreign Investment Review Agency and National Energy Program, and Canadian governmental attitudes to FDI by Canadian companies


COURSEPACK David Leyton-Brown, “Canadianizing Oil and Gas: The National Energy Program, 1980-83,”  and Peter Dobell, “Reducing Vulnerability: The ‘Third Option,’” from Don Munton & John Kirton, eds., Canadian Foreign Policy: Selected Cases.

March 17, 19         Japan
Focuses on the evolution of Japanese FDI out of pioneering initiatives like Import Substitution Industrialization, and attempts to emulate these policies elsewhere.


COURSEPACK Kenichi Miyashita and David Russell (1994) chapters 1 and 2, from Keiretsu: Inside the
Hidden Japanese Conglomerates, New York: McGraw Hill.
HYPERLINK Schoppa (2006) “Race to the Bottom? Japanese Multinational Firms and the Future of the Lifetime Employment System,” The Asia-Pacific Journal. vol. 4, no. 3. (Scoppa PDF)

March 24, March 26        China

In recent years China’s state-owned enterprises have engaged in what is often portrayed as an orgy of acquisitions around the world, particularly in the oil and mineral industries. But are China’s firms out to conquer host economies, or merely latecomers to the extensive global expansion of MNCs over the past two decades? Looking inward, this unit also looks at a highly publicized case of the challenges of doing business in China.


HYPERLINK Peter Nolan (2012) chapters 1, 2, and 3 from Is China Buying the World? Polity Cambridge: Polity Press. (Nolan PDF).
HYPERLINK Jennifer Pan and Margaret Roberts (Oct. 16, 2019) “These 3 factors explain why the NBA and other companies struggle to push back against Chinese censorship,” Washington Post, (WPost)

March 31, April 2 Current Trends & Review/Summary
COURSEPACK This week provides review of course materials and objectives and some reflection on current trends, future directions, in MNC discussion including increased skepticism about the wisdom of reifying the MNC among other corporate forms.

HYPERLINK Thomas Oatley (2011) “The Reductionist Gamble: Open Economy Politics in the Global Economy,” International Organization 65, 2: 311-41 (Oatley PDF)
HYPERLINK Milan Babic, Jan Fichter, and Eelke Heemskerk (2017) “States versus Corporations: Rethinking the Power of Business in International Politics,” The Italian Journal of International Affairs. vol. 52, no. 4. (Babic PDF)