Abstract: The Hegemon-Centric Corporation

Rita Zajacz


In the early 1930s, the American government was asked to decide about the applications of two multinational corporations, United Fruit and I.T.T., for a radio license in the Republic of Panama. The clashing perspectives of the Navy and the State Departments reveal that naval policymakers at the time formulated a theory about the impact of international expansion on the identities and loyalties of MNCs. The linchpin of the Navy's theory was that expansion exposed companies to host state influence. The most threatening scenario was exemplified by I.T.T.: the transformation of American companies into hegemon-centric firms, loyal to the most powerful state in the system. This seemingly inconsequential license decision, therefore, demonstrates not only that theories of international expansion exist outside academia, but also that contemporary MNC typology cannot accommodate policymakers' perspectives, which might spell the difference between success or failure in international expansion.