Global processes and local effects : food processing transnational corporations in the developing world
The physical manifestations of economic globalization are two fold: (i) there are global processes at work; and (ii) there are impacts from those processes. In conceptualizing what global processes really are, the primary agent of global economic activity, the transnational corporation (TNC), must be scrutinized. Since TNC operations between industries differ, assessments must be made on an industry-specific level. Accordingly, this thesis uses an interdisciplinary approach to uncover and evaluate the global workings of TNCs in one of the largest worldwide industries - the food processing industry. Using as case studies the three largest TNCs in the industry (Nestle, Unilever and Philip Morris), an in-depth investigation is launched into how these institutions are global facilitators. A typology of food processing TNC activity is developed which identifies three key areas of global firm activity - Global Production, Global Management and Global Partnershipping. This triad provides the analytical framework with which to assess food TNC global processes and to subsequently link these global processes to local impacts. The impacts from TNC global processes are most keenly felt in economically sensitive areas in the developing world. The food industry is especially important to developing world economies, where, on average, 31% (the high is 73%) of all manufacturing output is in the food and drink industry (as compared to industrialized countries, where the average is 19% and the high is 35%). Prior to assessing impacts, it is first necessary to identify the linkages between TNC activity and the local communities in which they operate. Using the global strategy indicators of Global Production, Global Management and Global Partnershipping, a matrix is developed which links these TNC global processes to thirteen primary local impacts in the developing world. Local impacts are readily apparent on agriculture, rural community, food security, local incomes, education, employment, labour conditions, environment, local firms, training, technology, nutrition and consumption. Monitoring these linkages through assessments of TNC corporate social responsibility can assist in maximizing positive outcomes.