The Legitimacy Of Foreign Investors: Individual Attitudes Toward The Impact Of Multinational Enterprises

Ayse Kaya, Swarthmore College
J. T. Walker


This article aims to analyze individual attitudes toward the impact of multinational enterprises (MNEs) on local businesses. These individual attitudes are important in understanding voters' preferences, which studies show to affect governmental policies. MNEs' market entry location decisions are conditioned by the host's political environment. Moreover, MNEs' attempts to attain legitimacy in their host contexts ultimately affect their bottom line, so how the public perceive MNEs matters. Design/methodology/approach – Using a large-scale data set, the paper carefully delineates between a set of potential mechanisms influencing individual attitudes to globalization in the context of individuals' attitudes toward the impact of MNEs on local businesses. Findings – The article demonstrates that there is remarkable heterogeneity and complexity in individual attitudes toward the impact of MNEs on local businesses and that these attitudes differ across regions and across countries. It is found that better educated individuals, those employed in the private sector, and those who do not have nationalistic tendencies are more likely to consider that MNEs are not harming local firms, while the opposite holds for those who are employed in “less skilled” occupations, such as those working in plants or in elementary occupations. The article also provides evidence that individuals' attitudes are determined by more than the labor market calculations these individuals might have. In fact, the socializing influence of education and the socializing impact of the individuals' type/sector of occupation also significantly determine the individual attitudes under study. Originality/value – This area of research remains substantially under-developed in the literature that analyzes individual attitudes toward globalization, which focuses on individual attitudes toward trade and immigration. Thus, the article not only aims to broaden the work on individual attitudes toward globalization, but it also aims to facilitate further discussion on the specific topic of individual attitudes toward MNEs.