Skip to main content Accessibility help

Creating Knowledge Networks: Spanish Multinational Publishers in Mexico

  • María Fernández-Moya


Unlike the majority of Spanish multinationals, which have developed only recently, firms in the publishing industry became international in the early twentieth century and have managed to hold on to much of their business, despite the instability of their own institutional systems and those of their principal host economies. Today, the Spanish publishing industry ranks fourth in the world, and its foreign markets continue to grow in North America, Europe, Latin America, and, most critically, in Mexico. The internationalization of Spanish publishing firms was fueled initially by a search for new markets and by linguistic and cultural advantages. With the passage of time, the process came to be built on accumulated knowledge and on the personal and social networks created by Spanish publishers, both inside and outside Spain.



Hide All

The author wishes to thank Núria Puig for her intellectual support during my research and her generous help in the execution of the article. Financial support by Fundación Serra and Spanish Ministry of Education and Science (project SEJ2006-15151) is gratefully acknowledged. I am indebted to María Inés Barbero, Carlos Marichal, Josep Tàpies, Jaime Salinas (of Alfaguara and Seix Barral), Mónica and Gabriel Gili (of Gustavo Gili), Hans Meinke, Leandro Sagástizabal (currently general manager of Argentina's Fondo de Cultura Económica), Carlos Ortega Núñez (FEDECALI—Spanish Federation of Book Chambers), Alberto Díaz (general manager of Emecé), and especially to José Manuel Lara (chairman of Planeta Group), Emiliano Martinez, and Pancho Pérez González (founder of Santillana-PRISA). I would also like to thank the anonymous referees for their helpful comments. Of course, all errors remain my own.

1 United Nations, 2003. Obviously, these data vary from year to year, but Spain has consistently held the fourth or fifth position.

2 Dunning, John H., American Investment in British Manufacturing Industry (London, 1958); Vernon, Raymond, “International Investment and International Trade in the Product Life Cycle,” Quarterly Journal of Economics 80 (1966): 190207; and Sovereignty at Bay: The Multinational Spread of U.S. Enterprises (New York, 1971).

3 Wilkins, Mira, The Emergence of Multinational Enterprise: American Business Abroad from the Colonial Era to 1914 (Cambridge, Mass., 1970); and The Growth of Multinationals (Aldershot, 1991); Chandler, Alfred D. Jr., Leviathans: Multinational Corporations and the New Global History (Cambridge, 2005); Jones, Geoffrey, British Multinationals: Origins, Management and Performance (Aldershot, 1986); The Evolution of International Business (London, 1996); Merchants to Multinationals: British Trading Companies in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries (Oxford, 2002); and Multinationals and Global Capitalism: From the Nineteenth to the Twenty-First Century (New York, 2005); Casson, Mark, Economics of International Business: A New Research Agenda (Cheltenham, 2000); Dunning, John H., “Explaining Changing Patterns of International Production: In Defense of the Eclectic Theory,” Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics (Nov. 1979): 269–96, and The Eclectic Paradigm of International Production: A Restatement and Some Possible Extensions,” Journal of International Business Studies 19 (1988): 131; Narula, Rajneesh, Multinational Investment and Economic Structure: Globalization and Competitiveness (London, 1996).

4 Guillén, Mauro and García-Canal, Esteban, The New Multinationals: Spanish Firms in a Global Context (Cambridge, U.K., 2010).

6 Among the other economists and business analysts who have tackled the subject are the following: Durán, Juan José, Multinacionales españolas en Iberoamérica: Valor estratégico (Madrid, 1999); Durán, Juan José, La empresa multinacional española: Estrategias y ventajas competitivas (Madrid, 2005); Alonso, José Antonio, Competir en el exterior: La empresa española y los mercados internacionales (Madrid, 1998); Alonso, José Antonio and Donoso, Vicente, Competitividad de la Empresa Exportadora Española (Madrid, 1994); Guillén, Mauro, The Rise of Spanish Multinationals (New York, 2005); Guillén, Mauro and García-Canal, Esteban, “The American Model of the Multinational Firm and the ‘New’ Multinationals from Emerging Economies,” Academy of Management Perspectives (May 2009): 2335; Toral, Pablo, The Reconquest of the New World: Multinational Enterprises and Spain's Direct Investment in Latin America (Burlington, 2001); Martín, Félix and Toral, Pablo, Latin America's Quest for Globalization: The Role of Spanish Firms (Burlington, 2005).

7 Examples of works in this area are Altbach, Philip G. and Hoshino, Edith S., eds., International Book Publishing: An Encyclopedia (New York, 1995); Greco, Albert N., The Book Publishing Industry (Boston, 2005); Weedon, Alexis, Victorian Publishing: Book Publishing for the Mass Market, 1836–1916 (Ashgate, 2003); Weedon, Alexis, History of the Book in the West (Ashgate, 2010); Eliot, Simon and Rose, Jonathan, eds., A Companion to the History of the Book (Blackwell, 2007); Bell, Bill, ed., The Edinburgh History of the Book in Scotland, vol. 3: Ambition and Industry, 1800n1880 (Edinburgh, 2007); McCleery, Alistair and Finkelstein, David, eds., The Edinburgh History of the Book in Scotland, vol. 4: Professionalism and Diversity, 1880–2000 (Edinburgh, 2007); Thornton, Patricia H., Markets from Culture: Institutional Logics and Organizational Decisions in Higher Education Publishing (Stanford, 2004). A recent and excellent work about the history of Bertelsmann is by Berghoff, Harmut, “From Small Publisher to Global Media and Services Company: Outline of the History of Bertelsmann, 1985 to 2010,” in 175 Years of Bertelsmann: The Legacy for Our Future (Munich, 2010).

8 Van Lente, Dick and De Goey, Ferry, “Trajectories of Internationalization: Knowledge and National Business Styles in the Making of Two Dutch Publishing Multinationals, 1950–1990,” Enterprise & Society 9 (Mar. 2008): 165202.

9 Johanson, Jan and Wiedershein, Paul, “The Internationalisation of the Firm: Four Swedish Case Studies,” Journal of Management Studies 12, no. 3 (1973): 305–22; Johanson, Jan and Vhalme, Jan-Erik, “The Internalization Process of the Firm: A Model of Knowledge Development and Increasing Foreign Market Commitments,” Journal of International Business Studies 8, no. 1 (1977): 2332.

10 Kogut, Bruce and Zander, Udo, “Knowledge of the Firm and the Evolutionary Theory of the Multinational Corporation,” Journal of International Business Studies 24 (1993): 625–45; and A Memoir and Reflection: Knowledge and an Evolutionary Theory of the Multinational Firm,” Journal of International Business Studies 34, no. 6 (2003): 505–15.

11 Kogut, and Zander, , “A Memoir and Reflection,” 54.

12 Jones, Multinationals and Global Capitalism.

13 Ibid., 5.

14 Jesús A., Martínez, Historia de la edición en España (1836–1936) (Madrid, 2001), 210.

15 Rus, Ana Martínez, La política del libro durante la II República: Socialización de la lectura (Madrid, 2001), 239.

16 Gili, Gustavo, Bosquejo de una política del libro (Barcelona, 1944), 95.

17 Ibid., and Martínez Rus, La política del libro.

18 Foreign Affairs Section, Box 1274, Archivo General de la Administración (General Administration Archive), Alcalá de Henares, Madrid (hereafter, AGA).

19 Foreign Affairs Section, Box 377, AGA. Author's translation.

20 Castellano, Philippe, “La distribución de los libros en Latinoamérica en vísperas de la Primera Guerra Mundial,” in Prensa, impresos, lectura en el mundo hispánico contemporáneo: Homenaje a Jean-François Brotel, ed. Desvois, J. M. (Bordeaux, 2005), 97108.

22 Cabrera, Mercedes, La industria, la prensa y la política: Nicolás Ma de Urgoiti (1869–1951) (Madrid, 1994).

23 Calpe, Espasa, Annual Report, 1929.

24 Calpe, Espasa, Annual Reports, 19291934.

25 Gili, Bosquejo de una política.

26 Foreign Affairs Section, Box 463, AGA.

27 Martínez Rus, La política del libro.

28 Olarra, Rafael, Espasa Calpe: Manuel Olarra, un editor con vocación (Buenos Aires, 2003).

29 Salvat Archive, Boxes 2.1.24 and 2.1.26, Arxiu Nacional de Catalunya (National Archive of Catalonia), San Cugat del Vallès, Barcelona.

30 Anderson, Danny J., “Creating Cultural Prestige: Editorial Joaquin Mortiz,” Latin American Research Review 31, no. 2 (1996): 341.

31 “La exportación editorial a Hispanomaérica,” El Libro Español, Jan. 1965, 3839.

32 Culture Section, Box 87413, AGA.

34 Moya, María Fernández, “A Family-Owned Publishing Multinational: The Salvat Company (1869–1988),” Business History 52, no. 3 (2010): 453–70.

35 “La edición en la Comunidad Económica Europea,” El Libro Español, Apr. 1974, 175–76.

36 Lente, Van and Goey, De, “Trajectories of Internationalization,” 187.

37 In the early 1970s, it became clear that the main drivers of Latin American economic policies, protectionism and state-led-development, had created endless distortions. Haber, Stephen, “The Political Economy of Industrialization,” in The Cambridge Economic History of Latin America, ed. Bulmer-Thomas, Victor, Coatsworth, John, and Cortes-Conde, Roberto (New York, 2006), 582. By the 1970s, inflation and high debt levels characterized the economic situation of most Latin American countries.

38 Galán, José Manuel, Análisis estructural del sector editorial español (Madrid, 1986), 159.

39 González, Francisco Pérez, “Orígenes de los proyectos editoriales en México,” Economía Exterior 12 (2000): 2932.

40 “La edición en la Comunidad Económica Europea,” El Libro Español, Apr. 1974, 177.

41 “La crisis en la industria editorial Europea,” El Libro Español, Mar. 1975, 103–4.

42 Galán, , Análisis estructural, 214.

43 “Havas compra España para conquistar Latinoamérica,” El Mundo, 12 Sept. 1998, 36.

44 The lack of information and knowledge about a host country is known as “psychic distance.” Johanson and Vhalme defined this concept as “the sum of factors preventing the flow of information from and to the market. Examples are differences in language, education, business practices, culture and industrial development.” Johanson, and Vhalme, , “The Internalization Process,” 24.

45 Santillana Annual Account, 2000, available at

46 Lara, Jose Manuel, “Sector Editorial: El caso de Planeta,” Revista ICE 799 (Apr.–May 2002): 221. Author's translation.

47 Planeta would later sell off that same percentage. Sudamericana currently belongs to Random House Mondadori Group.

48 Goey, De and Lente, Van, “Trajectories of Internationalization,” 173.

49 Kogut, and Zander, , “Knowledge of the Firm,” 635.

50 Lente, Van and Goey, De, “Trajectories of Internationalization,” 170–97.

51 Guillén and García-Canal, The New Multinationals.

52 Jones, Geoffrey and Khanna, Tarun, “Bringing History (Back) into International Business,” Journal of International Business Studies 37 (July 2006): 453–68.

Creating Knowledge Networks: Spanish Multinational Publishers in Mexico

  • María Fernández-Moya


Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed