The Political Opportunity of the Outsider: Firm Strategy in the Context of Decolonization

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperResearch


This paper examines the political strategies of two German firms—Siemens and I.G. Farben—in interwar India as a way to consider how multinational enterprises (MNEs) deal with political risk. The interwar period was characterized
by rising political risks throughout the global economy, as conflicts between developed national economies rose in the wake of World War I, as anti-­‐colonial and communist movements gained ground, and international monetary
instability increased. Yet, far from retrenching from the global economy, German MNEs capitalized on the growing political risks by developing political strategies and cultivating political capabilities that allowed them to successfully
pursue international markets in geopolitically turbulent times. Identifying their mechanisms and viewing them longitudinally shows MNEs as political actors, not just adapting and dealing with novel political contexts but actively
shaping political identities and processes of legitimization. This paper uses this case to argue for a rethink of political risk in international business, to regard it as a source of political opportunities that multinationals can capitalize
on, and not exclusively as a source of liabilities that need to be managed.
Original languageEnglish
Publication date21 Apr 2016
Number of pages36
Publication statusPublished - 21 Apr 2016
EventPenn Economic History Forum - University of Pennsylvania - School of Arts and Sciences, Philadelphia, PA, United States
Duration: 1 Jan 2018 → …


OtherPenn Economic History Forum
LocationUniversity of Pennsylvania - School of Arts and Sciences
CountryUnited States
CityPhiladelphia, PA
Period01/01/2018 → …
Internet address


  • Political risk
  • Multinationals
  • Decolonization

Cite this