The Advantage of Outsiderness: Political Risk Management in Historical Perspective

Organisation Studies

Speaker:Prof. Christina Lubinski, Copenhagen Business School
Date: Wednesday 1 March 2017
Time: 14:30
Location: Building One: Bateman Lecture Theatre

Further details

Abstract: This paper examines the political strategies of two German firms—Siemens’ and I.G. Farben—in interwar India as a way to consider how multinational enterprises (MNEs) deal with political risk. The interwar period was characterized by rising political risks throughout the global economy, as conflicts between developed national economies rose in the wake of World War I, as anti-colonial and communist movements gained ground, and international monetary instability increased. Yet, far from retrenching from the global economy, German MNEs capitalized on the growing political risks by developing political strategies and cultivating political capabilities that allowed them to successfully pursue international markets in geopolitically turbulent times. Identifying their mechanisms and viewing them longitudinally shows MNEs as political actors, not just adapting and dealing with novel political contexts but actively shaping political identities and processes of legitimization. This paper uses this case to argue for a rethink of political risk in international business, to regard it as a source of political opportunities that multinationals can capitalize on, and not exclusively as a source of liabilities that need to be managed.

Bio: CHRISTINA LUBINSKI is Associate Professor at the Centre for Business History, Department of Management, Politics and Philosophy at Copenhagen Business School and holds a visiting fellowship at Henley Business School, University of Reading (2016-2019). She was previously a Newcomen Fellow at Harvard Business School. She works on the history international business and political risk, with a focus on India, and on family business governance. Her most recent articles include “Liability of Foreignness in Historical Context: German Business in Preindependence India (1880-1940)” (Enterprise & Society, Winner of the Oxford Journal Article Prize) and “Toward the New Entrepreneurial History” (with Dan Wadhwani, Business History Review, forthcoming.)