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Multinational corporations (MNCs) are business entities that operate in more than one country. A typically one normally functions with a headquarters that is based in one country, while other facilities are based in locations in other countries. In some circles, this type of corporation is referred to as a multinational enterprise (MBE) or a transnational corporation (TNC).
The exact model for an MNC may vary slightly. One common model is the positioning of the executive headquarters in one nation, while production facilities are located in one or more other countries. This model often allows the company to take advantage of benefits of incorporating in a given locality, while also being able to produce goods and services in areas where the cost of production is lower.
Another structural model for a multinational organization or MNO is to base the parent company in one nation and operate subsidiaries in other countries around the world. With this model, just about all the functions of the parent are based in the country of origin. The subsidiaries more or less function independently, outside of a few basic ties to the parent.
A third approach to the setup of an MNC involves the establishment of a headquarters in one country that oversees a diverse conglomeration that stretches to many different countries and industries. With this model, the corporation includes affiliates, subsidiaries and possibly even some facilities that report directly to the headquarters.
The idea of a multinational corporation has been around for centuries. Some trace the origins of the concept back to the Dutch East India Company of the 17th century, as the corporate structure involved a presence in more than one country. During the 19th and 20th centuries, the idea of a company that functioned in more than one nation became increasingly common. In the 21st century, this business model continues to be highly desirable.
There are several ways that an MNC can come into existence. One approach is to intentionally establish a new company with headquarters in one country while producing goods and services in facilities located elsewhere. In other instances, the multinational corporation comes about due to mergers between two or more companies based in different countries. Acquisitions and hostile takeovers also sometimes result in the creation of these corporations.
In a world that continues to become more interconnected each day, a multinational corporation sometimes has a greater ability to adapt to economic and political shifts that corporations that function in a single nation. Along with decreasing costs associated with producing core products, this business model also opens the door for diversification, which often makes it possible for a company to remain solvent even when one division or subsidiary is posting a temporary loss.