CCGL9069 Global Issues

Multinationals and the Global Economy

Course Description

What are the drivers of globalization? When you read this question, you will most likely think of major nation-states such as China or the United States, international organizations such as the United Nations, and technological innovations, such as the internet or the airplane. However, there is another important driver that fuels globalization: multinational companies. These are companies that do business in multiple countries and move, manufacture and market capital, commodities and services across borders, often owning assets and employing people throughout the world. Multinational companies are major pillars of the global economy, but at the same time shape our daily lives locally. In this course, you will explore how these multinational companies operate across the world and influence globalization. We will discuss the positive and negative effects the ever-growing presence of multinationals have on our lives, not only economically, but also in terms of the larger impact multinationals have on local cultures.

Course Learning Outcomes

On completing the course, students will be able to:

  1. Critically reflect on and analyse the main features in the development of multinational companies and their role in the global economy since the 17th century.
  2. Compare the features of multinational companies from different countries and their operations in different markets around the world.
  3. Analyse the role of multinational companies in their everyday lives.
  4. Investigate important problems both individually and as part of a group and communicate the conclusions in discussions and presentations.

Offer Semester and Day of Teaching

Second semester (Wed)

Study Load

Activities Number of hours
Lectures 24
Tutorials 11
Reading / Self-study 36
Assessment: Group presentation (incl preparation) 8
Assessment: Journal 18
Assessment: Group project 24
Total: 121

Assessment: 100% coursework

Assessment Tasks Weighting
Participation in lectures and tutorials 20
Tutorial presentation 15
Individual student journal 30
Group project 35

Required Reading

Part I – The History of Multinational Companies


  • Jones, G. Multinationals and Capitalism. [pp. 1–15]

Early Globalization

  • Brandon, P. (2017). Between company and state: The case of the Dutch East and West India Companies. In G. Baars & A. Spicer, The Corporation: A critical, multi-disciplinary handbook (pp. 215-225). Cambridge University Press.
  • Saldanha, J., Haworth, J., & McKenna, C. (2019, March). Case Study #10: The Hudson’s Bay Company: Royal Charters, Rivalries and Luxury Hats in the North American Fur Trade. Oxford Global History of Capitalism Project. University of Oxford. [10 pages]

Multinational Companies and the Global Economy Before World War I

  • Jones, G. Multinationals and Capitalism. [pp. 16–26]
  • Neal, S. (2018). Jardine Matheson: Drugs, War, and Empire. In H. Gringarten & R. Fernandez-Calienes (Eds.), Ethical Branding and Marketing: Cases and Lessons (pp. 159-172). New York: Routledge. [Jardine Matheson in the 19th Century China Trade].

The Global Economy and Multinationals Today

Part II: The Global and the Local


  • Arreguín, R. del C. R., Orr, R., & McKenna, C. (2020, April). Case Study #17: The Globalization of Mexican Tortillas: GRUMA and the Mass Production of Corn Flour. Oxford Global History of Capitalism Project. [11 pages]
  • Daft, D. [CEO of Coca Cola] (2000, March 27). Back to Classic Coke. Financial Times. [Available from Financial Times Online Archive, HKUL Electronic Resources]
  • Jones, G. (2013). Entrepreneurship and Multinationals. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar. [pp. 57–76]
  • Robertson, R. (2012). Globalisation or glocalization? The Journal of International Communications, 18(2), 191–208.


  • Da Silva Lopes, T., & Casson, M. (2007). Entrepreneurship and the Development of Global Brands. Business History Review, 81(4), 651-680.
  • Kapferer, J. N. (2005). The post-global brand. Journal of Brand Management, 12(5), 319–324.
  • Harris, C, & Haworth, J., Mansfield, S., & McKenna, C. (2020). Case Study #3: Volkswagen Since World War Two: Rebuilding the Corporate Reputation of the World’s Largest Car Manufacturer. Oxford Global History of Capitalism Project. [10 pages]

Business Culture

  • Dejung, C. (2011). Bridges to the East: European Merchants and Business Practices in India and China. In R. Lee (Ed.), Commerce and Culture: Nineteenth-Century Business Elites (pp. 93–116). [Case Study of Swiss Merchant Firm Volkert Brothers in 19th and 20th century India and China]
  • Lee, R. (Ed.). (2011). Commerce and Culture: A Critical Assessment of the Role of Cultural Factors in Commerce and Trade from c. 1750 to the Early Twentieth Century. Commerce and Culture: Nineteenth-Century Business Elites. [pp. 1–38]

Host Economies

  • Cochran, S. (1986). Commercial Penetration and Economic Imperialism in China: An American Cigarette Company’s Entrance into the Market. In E. R. May & J. K. Fairbank (Eds.), America’s China Trade in Historical Perspective: The Chinese and American Perspective (pp. 151–204). Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. [Case Study of British-American Tobacco in China]
  • Jones, G. Multinationals and Global Capitalism. [pp. 255–284]

Part III: Local Society


  • Da Silva Lopes, T. (1999). The Impact of Multinational Investment on Alcohol Consumption Since the 1960s. Business and Economic History, 28(2), 109-22.
  • Köse, Y. (2007). Nestlé: A Brief History of the Marketing Strategies of the First Multinational Company in the Ottoman Empire.  Journal of Macromarketing, 27(1), 74-85.

Multinationals and the State

  • Fitfield, A. (2013, March 19). Contractors reap $138bn from Iraq war. Financial Times. From
  • Jones, G. & Lubinski, C. (2011). Managing Political Risk in Global Business: Beiersdorf, 1914-1990. Enterprise & Society, 13(1), 85-119.
  • Rollings, N. (2020). Government and Regulators. In T. da Silva Lopes, et. al., The Routledge Companion to the Makers of Global Business (pp. 95–108).

Local Communities

  • Calvano, L. (2008). Multinational Corporations and Local Communities: A Critical Analysis of Conflict. Journal of Business Ethics, 82(4), 793-805.
  • Rahman, A., & Hasan, M. (2022). From local to global: networked activism against multinational extractivism. Review of Communication, 22, 231-255. [Case Study of Asia Energy in Bangladesh]


  • McKinsey Global Institute. (2003). Offshoring: Is it a Win-Win game? San Francisco: McKinsey & Co.
  • Siegmann, K. A. (2008). Soccer Ball Production for Nike in Pakistan. Economic and Political Weekly, 43(22), 57-64.

Course Co-ordinator and Teacher(s)

Course Co-ordinator Contact
Professor G. Moazzin
Hong Kong Institute for the Humanities and Social Sciences
Tel: 3917 8110
Teacher(s) Contact
Professor G. Moazzin
Hong Kong Institute for the Humanities and Social Sciences
Tel: 3917 8110