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Multinational corporations in a changing global economy: Opportunities and challenges for workers, firms, communities and governments

As policymakers in the United States consider strategies to stimulate economic growth, bolster employment and wages, reduce inequality, and stabilize federal government finances, many express concerns about the role of US multinational corporations and globalization more generally.  Despite a significant body of work, the research community cannot yet fully explain and coherently articulate the roles that multinational corporations play in the outcomes that policymakers care about most: growth, jobs, inequality and tax revenue.  In many respects, multinationals present persistent mysteries.  Is their multinational nature a key driver of their profits?  With their sprawling networks of trade and investment, do US and European multinationals add to home country employment or subtract from it?  To what extent does tax avoidance drive corporate behavior and thereby pose challenges to government finances?  Does it matter where companies locate their R&D?  Do multinationals have financial advantages over single-country companies?  How do multinationals influence foreign policy?  How will the rise of the digital economy and the digital trade in services affect multinationals?

In response to these questions, Fritz Foley of Harvard Business School, Jim Hines of University of Michigan, and David Wessel of the Hutchins Center at Brookings are editing a volume, Multinational Corporations in a Changing Global Economy that will include papers by prominent academics on a wide range of topics, including jobs (in home country and abroad), R&D, finance, tax, and foreign policy. In a sense, this is a sequel to a 1978 Brookings Press book, American Multinationals and American Interests (Bergsten, Horst, Moran, eds.). The authors will present drafts of their papers at this conference at Brookings on Thursday, December 19.

*This event is by invitation only. Draft papers are available for download below. 



Welcome and project overview

Co-editors: Fritz Foley (Harvard Business School), Jim Hines (University of Michigan) and David Wessel (Brookings Institution)

Multinationals, jobs and wages

Do multinational firms export jobs? 
Author: Lindsay Oldenski (Georgetown University)

Do MNCs exploit foreign workers?
Authors: Emma Aisbett (Australian National University), Ann Harrison (University of California, Berkeley), David Levine (University of California, Berkeley), Jason Scorse (Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey) and Jed Silver (University of California, Berkeley)


Discussant: Alvaro Gonzalez (World Bank Group)


Multinational activity

Multinational firms’ market entry and expansion, with evidence from Eastern Europe
Authors: Catherine Thomas (London School of Economics and Political Science) and Andrew Bernard (Dartmouth College) 

The structure of multinational firms’ international activities
Authors: Ron Davies (University College Dublin) and Jim Markusen (University of Colorado, Boulder)


Discussant: Chad Bown (Peterson Institute for International Economics)


Multinationals, innovation and the digital economy

The new global invention machine: A look inside the R&D networks of US multinationals
Authors: Lee Branstetter (Carnegie Mellon University), Britta Glennon (University of Pennsylvania) and Brad Jensen (Georgetown University)  

Multinationals in the digital economy
Author: Ben Edelman (Microsoft) 


Discussant: David Dollar (Brookings Institution)


Multinationals and politics

Multinational corporations and their influence through lobbying on foreign policy
Authors: In Song Kim (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) and Helen Milner (Princeton University) 


Discussant: Robert Lawrence (Harvard Kennedy School)

Multinationals and public finances

Tax avoidance and multinational firm behavior
Authors: Scott Dyreng (Duke University) and Michelle Hanlon (Massachusetts Institute of Technology)

Do multinational firms use tax havens to the detriment of other countries?
Author: Dhammika Dharmapala (University of Chicago)   


Discussant: Kim Clausing (Reed College)


Multinationals, finance and management

The corporate finance of multinational firms
Authors: Isil Erel (Ohio State University), Yeejin Jang (University of New South Wales) and Michael Weisbach (Ohio State University)

The international market for corporate control
Author: Anusha Chari (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill)


Discussant: Steve Kamin (Federal Reserve Board)         

Closing remarks and adjourn

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