Rising Powers and Interdependent Futures

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By Mo Yamin and Rudolf Sinkovics

Mo Yamin and Rudolf Sinkovics introduce a special issue of critical perspectives on international business, Vol 11, No.3/4 on the developmental impact of Rising Power firms.

Huawei phones, Nando’s chicken, Tata cars – brands from Rising Power countries are present in more and more countries across the globe. The new multinationals that produce these brands are increasingly competing with established Western multinationals, in the Europe and America as well as in Africa and Asia. But what impact do these Rising Power multinationals have on global development? As they expand their global operations, how do they influence the economy, people and the environment? These questions are at the core of a special issue in Critical Perspectives on International Business.
The developmental promises and challenges of Chinese, Indian, or Brazilian companies’ international operations are controversial. One argument in favour of South-South FDI is that firms from emerging economies might adapt more easily to local realities in a developing country than multinationals from the US or Europe. So, do they better understand the needs of low-income consumers, and can they provide these with goods and services that used to be available only for the rich? Or, on the other hand, should we believe media reports on land grabbing and giant infrastructure projects by Chinese or Indian investors that destroy the environment and harm local communities?
Against this debate, the special issue takes a closer look at the nature and strategies of these Rising Power firms. Four articles in the collection look at how capabilities of these firms differ from those of Western multinationals. First, Peter J. Williamson finds that Rising Power firms have distinctive capabilities of innovation and reconfiguration that can give them an edge over competitors. Peter Konijn and Rob van Tulder examine “Resources-for-infrastructure (R4I) Swaps” as a specific market entry strategy of Chinese firms in African countries.  Taking a different angle, Jaya Prakash Pradhan and Keshab Das highlight regional differences within Rising Power countries and their effects on export performance of local SMEs. Further, Rory Horner shows how the emergence of Rising Power firms in the pharmaceutical sector has led established multinationals to increase pressure around intellectual property rights in India and South Africa.
Three further articles examine how the concept of global value chains (GVCs) can help to understand Rising Power firms’ developmental impact. Zaheer Khan, Yong Kyu Lew and Rudolf R. Sinkovics show why Pakistani automobile suppliers have benefited relatively little from their integration into GVCs. Joonkoo Lee and Gary Gereffi  point out that new markets in emerging economies and new regional value chains can be an opportunity for developing country firms to upgrade economically. However, they warn of a risk that this economic upgrading may be accompanied by negative social effects. Finally, contributing to the debate about the social impact of Rising Power firms, Noemi Sinkovics, Rudolf R. Sinkovics, Samia Ferdous Hoque and Laszlo Czaban propose a reconceptualization of social value creation, focusing on the “root causes” of constraints to creating social value.
Overall, the special issue contributes both conceptual thinking and empirical insights to the debate around the developmental impact of Rising Power firms. In sum, the articles show that there is no easy answer to the question of whether these new Chinese, Indian or Brazilian multinationals are good or bad for global development. But one thing is sure: We should keep an eye on them.
For more details, please refer to:
Mo Yamin , Rudolf R. Sinkovics , (2015) “Rising power firms – the developmental promises and challenges: an introduction”, critical perspectives on international business, Vol. 11 Iss: 3/4. http://dx.doi.org/10.1108/cpoib-04-2015-0016

Read the full special issue of critical perspectives on international business, Vol 11, No. 3/4.