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The Limitations of International Relations Regarding MNCs and the Digital Economy: Evidence from Brazil

Marcos Vinícius Isaias Mendes

Review of Political Economy, 2021, vol. 33, issue 1, 67-87

Abstract: Multinationals (MNCs) have been considered a relevant research topic for International Relations since the emergence of the field of International Political Economy in the 1970s. Nowadays, MNCs are undergoing deep changes in their business models and global strategies due to the digital economy. This has considerable implications for the international system. For instance, the rise of information and communication technology (ICT) MNCs to the top of market value lists globally. Nonetheless, IR scholars have been slow in grasping the importance of ICT MNCs and the digital economy. In this paper, I justify this statement by evaluating the inclusion of MNCs and ICT MNCs in Brazilian IR scholarship. The method used is a bibliometric mapping of the scientific production of Brazilian IR scholars, supported by a systematic literature review. The results showcase that, in spite of the impact of digitalization on Brazil's economy and politics, IR scholars have conducted few studies on MNCs and practically no studies on ICT MNCs. This case illustrates the emergence of new dynamics in global value chains triggered by digitalization. It also illustrates the challenges for developing countries such as Brazil to engage in global production networks within the highly competitive ICT sector.

Date: 2021
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DOI: 10.1080/09538259.2020.1730609

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