Governments as owners: State-owned multinational companies

Alvaro Cuervo Cazurra, Andrew Inkpen, Aldo Musacchio, Kannan Ramaswamy

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

423 Scopus citations


The globalization of state-owned multinational companies (SOMNCs) has become an important phenomenon in international business (IB), yet it has received scant attention in the literature. We explain how the analysis of SOMNCs can help advance the literature by extending our understanding of state-owned firms (SOEs) and multinational companies (MNCs) in at least two ways. First, we cross-fertilize the IB and SOEs literatures in their analysis of foreign investment behavior and introduce two arguments: the extraterritoriality argument, which helps explain how the MNC dimension of SOMNCs extends the SOE literature, and the non-business internationalization argument, which helps explain how the SOE dimension of SOMNCs extends the MNC literature. Second, we analyze how the study of SOMNCs can help develop new insights of theories of firm behavior. In this respect, we introduce five arguments: the triple agency conflict argument in agency theory; the owner risk argument in transaction costs economics; the advantage and disadvantage of ownership argument in the resource-based view (RBV); the power escape argument in esource dependence theory; and the illegitimate ownership argument in neoinstitutional theory. After our analysis, we introduce the papers in the special issue that, collectively, reflect diverse and sophisticated research interest in the topic of SOMNCs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)919-942
Number of pages24
JournalJournal of International Business Studies
Issue number8
StatePublished - Oct 25 2014


  • Firm objectives
  • Internationalization
  • Multinational corporations (MNCs) and enterprises (MNEs)
  • Resource dependency
  • State ownership
  • Transaction cost economics or transaction cost analysis
  • Transaction cost theory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business and International Management
  • General Business, Management and Accounting
  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Strategy and Management
  • Management of Technology and Innovation


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