Multilateralism and the Multinational Enterprise

Thomas C. Lawton, Johan P. Lindeque, Steven M. McGuire

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Citations (SciVal)


How do multilateral institutions influence the strategic choices and actions of international managers? This paper addresses the question by exploring the impact of the World Trade Organization's (WTO) decision-making process on multinational enterprises (MNEs). We discuss the three phases of the WTO decision-making lifecycle - the formulation of trade rules, the implementation of those rules, and the enforcement of the rules – and propose a strategic adjustment framework for understanding how companies alter their strategies and structures in response to the WTO's rules and operations. We argue that the increased relevance of multilateral rules and enforcement mechanisms – embodied in the WTO - is an important influence on MNE strategies and structures because of the increasing embeddedness of the WTO in national levels of regulation. We illustrate this through examples taken from the pharmaceutical, textiles and sugar industries sectors that have witnessed substantial multilateral regulation.
Original languageEnglish
Article number3
JournalBusiness and Politics
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 13 Aug 2009


  • multinational enterprises
  • pharmaceuticals
  • textiles
  • sugar
  • World Trade Organization


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