The International Configurations of US Multinational Corporations

Heather Berry, Associate Professor of International Business, George Washington School of Business

Chapter in Alcacer, J., B. Kogut, B. Yeung and C. Thomas (eds). Advances in Strategic Management: Geography, Location and Strategy, Volume 36. Springer.

Summary: This paper explores how key insights from highly cited and well-used frameworks that describe the strategies and structures of MNCs are reflected in the international configurations of U.S. MNCs. After reviewing existing frameworks that highlight different MNC choices regarding the integration, responsiveness and dispersion of firm value chain activities, I perform a cluster analysis on a comprehensive and confidential database that covers the population of US MNCs. The results reveal five configurations which both support the importance of key insights from existing frameworks while at the same time highlighting underexplored configuration characteristics like the low levels of integration in US MNCs, the global sourcing arrangements for accessing foreign inputs and distribution, different approaches to regional expansion, and the limited geographic expansion of US MNCs pursuing product diversification. I argue that these underexplored characteristics suggest directions for future research to better reflect the international configuration choices of MNCs.