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  • Print publication year: 2013
  • Online publication date: April 2013



Until recently, when the question ‘what are the competitive advantages of multinationals from emerging economies in the global market?’ was posed to either academics or Western executives it typically elicited a simple response: ‘None’. To the extent that these firms from emerging economies were winning market share abroad, this was explained by the fortuitous access to so called ‘country-specific advantages’ (CSAs) such as a pool of low-cost labour in their home base (Rugman and Verbeke, 2001). Their success was viewed as a legacy of their birth. They were generally thought to lack ownership of the rich stocks of proprietary, intangible assets that theory argued was required for multinationals to be an efficient organisational form (Caves, 1986). Dunning (2001) termed the benefits of these intangible assets ‘ownership advantages’ – a term chosen to emphasise the idea that the transaction costs involved in transferring these assets (and hence their associated advantages) across borders using market mechanisms are higher than the costs of transferring them internally within an organisation under the same ownership. Without these intangible assets there was no reason why their products and resources should not be exchanged internationally through trade in an open market. According to a strict interpretation of this theory, therefore, the existence of emerging market multinational enterprises (EMNEs) must simply be the result of market distortions such as trade barriers or government support.