From National Monopoly to Multinational Corporation: How Regulation Shaped the Road Towards Telecommunications Internationalization
Business History, Vol. 53, No. 5, 2011
20 Pages Posted: 28 Sep 2011
Date Written: August 5, 2011
One of the consequences of major regulatory reform of the telecommunications sector from the end of the 1970s – particularly, privatization, liberalization and deregulation – was the establishment of a new business environment which permitted former national telecommunications monopolies to expand abroad. From the 1990s, a number of these firms, particularly those based in Europe, joined the rankings of the world’s leading Multinational Corporations. Their internationalization was uneven, however: while some firms internationalized strongly, others ventured abroad much slower. This article explores how the regulatory framework within which telecommunications incumbents evolved over the long-term shaped their subsequent, uneven, paths to internationalization. Two case studies representing ´maximum variation´ are selected: Telefónica, whose early and unrelenting expansion transformed it into one of the world’s most international of Multinational Corporations, and BT, whose overseas ventures failed and, with eroding domestic market share, forced the firm to partially retreat, becoming the least international of the large European incumbents. Long-term ownership, access to capital, management style and exposure to liberalization strongly influenced firms’ approaches to internationalization.
Keywords: regulation, telecommunications, internationalization, Europe, privatization, liberalization, Multinational Corporations, BT, Telefónica
JEL Classification: F3, H40, L33, L51, L96
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation