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Study Notes

The Varying Nature and Character of Transnational Corporations (TNCs)

AS, A-Level, IB
AQA, Edexcel, OCR, IB, Eduqas, WJEC

Last updated 27 Jul 2017

Transnational Corporations (TNCs) can be found operating in every sector of industry. Some examples in each sector are provided below.

Primary sector

Commercial agriculture is a major global employment provider dominated by TNC giants such as Del Monte and Cargill. Some large UK supermarkets send automated emails to their Kenyan vegetable suppliers requesting increased production quotas whenever store tills register especially good sales for any particular item. This ‘just-in-time’ ordering is made possible by ICT and global information flows, together with rapid delivery systems

Secondary sector

Many transactional manufacturing companies are household names from Samsung and Sony to BMW and Unilever. These companies have extensive production networks.  In reality, companies like Samsung are also constantly innovating and advertising new products. It is thus oversimplifying matters to describe them as entirely secondary sector operations.   

Tertiary sector

Many banks, insurance, investment and media corporations have large global networks with specialist branches operating in different world regions. Dutch production company Endemol has licensed the rights to its “Big Brother” franchise in nearly 70 countries, sometimes even taking the unusual step of re-naming the show (in Canada it was called “Loft Story”).

Quaternary sector

Research and development of new information technology, biotechnology and medical science comes under the umbrella of quaternary sector work. In China, US firm Intel employs 1,000 research staff on the outskirts of Shanghai. ABB, the Swedish-Swiss engineering group, has a research wing in Beijing, as do Nokia and Vodafone.  Medical research is increasingly conducted in India by western firms such as Pfizer and GlaxoSmithKline.

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