Carol K. Jacobson, Stefanie A. Lenway, Peter S. Ring

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations


Governments are able to manipulate economic transactions in order to achieve foreign policy goals. This article addresses the question: can managers of multinational enterprises (MNEs) structure economic transactions in ways that will limit the costs resulting from government intervention? Using a transaction cost framework, the efficiency of alternative structures (exporting, joint ventures, licensing, or wholly owned subsidiaries) for protecting a firm's interests are assessed. We argue that the traditional focus on the dyadic relationship between supplier and buyer misses sources of transaction costs; by conceptualizing economic transactions as embedded in a political context, additional sources of transaction costs are revealed. We examine three cases of home government intervention in US MNE transactions with the Soviet Union. We find that the full range of structural alternatives is affected by government sanctions, although sanctions are imposed on exporting relationships first and removed last. We find that MNEs are, therefore, beginning to insulate international transactions by making their overseas subsidiaries more independent of US technology and supplies with the hope that the US government will be less likely to impose its will extraterritorially by intervening in foreign subsidiaries’private economic transactions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)453-478
Number of pages26
JournalJournal of Management Studies
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 1993
Externally publishedYes


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