A critical review against Dunning's Eclectic Theory

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It is true of everything that the first steps ate both the most important and the most difficult. To begin with, theorization consists of a set of definitions of concepts. The basic concepts underlying the eclectic theory of the multinational enterprise (MNE)(1) are currently being criticized by the internalization theorists(2) in that the 'ownership advantage' is 'double counting,' that is, the internalization and location factors are necessary and sufficient to explain the existence and growth of the MNE. The controversy seems to require a thorough examination of the concept of the 'ownership advantage'. However, the examination should extend further afield. Our objective in this paper is to assess critically the three basic concepts in the eclectic theory, i.e., the 'ownership advantage,' the 'internalization advantage,' and the 'location advantage' and to suggest the beginnings of an alternative framework to deal with the MNE and FDI (i.e., foreign direct investment).


Some Features of the Electic Theory

First of all, we must set up the target of our examination.

The eclectic theory, Mark I, as advocated by Dunning is as follows [Dunning 1981:79]:

1. It (i.e., the firm) possesses net ownership advantages vis-a-vis firms of other nationalities in serving particular markets. These ownership advantages largely take the form of the possession of intangible assets, that are, at least for a period of time, exclusive or specific to the firm possessing them.

2. Assuming condition 1 is satisfied, it must be more beneficial to the enterprise possessing these advantages to use them itself rather than to sell or lease them to foreign firms, that is, for it to internalize its advantages through an extension of its own activities rather than externalize them through licensing and similar contracts with independent firms.

3. Assuming conditions 1 and 2 are satisfied,