Multinationals as Business Groups in Latin American History

Marcelo Bucheli

This paper studies the operations of US multinationals in Latin America that adopted the organizational form of business groups.  I analyze the exogenous and endogenous factors that created the incentives for this type of organization and discuss why and where they survived.  Business groups have received lots of attention by recent scholars as a very particular form by which domestic Latin American firms have organized themselves.  However, as recent research has shown, the US economy also witnessed the appearance of business groups in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, with some of them expanding as such into Latin America.  The paper discusses several cases and their implications for our understanding of the expansion of US capital in the region.