I just stumbled across a nifty new Google tool called the Google Labs Books Ngram Viewer, which allows users to compare the occurence of particular words or phrases over time within the enormous repository of scanned books with Google land.
I thought an International Business readership might be interested in the rise and fall of some of our most important terms over recent decades (click on the graphs for larger versions and the full search parameters).
And with the US spelling, and also capitalised (i.e. globalization, Globalization, Globalisation):
The latter graph is for a longer timeframe (right back to 1900). Both figures show the steep rise in the use of the term from the late 1980s (coinciding with a surge in foreign direct investment and increasing numbers of newly multinational firms). A plateau and then decline in usage around 2003 is certainly noticeable. I’m guessing the phenomenon has become much less discussion-worthy as the various features (greater connectedness, trade, investment etc) became more commonplace (or perhaps less controversial).
Here are the various single word versions of multinationals (since 1960):
It is quite surprising that the term rose considerably earlier, but did not grown along with globalisation. The two-word versions look very similar:
International business, global strategy, multinational strategy, transnational strategy all peaked around 1990 too. Global strategy had the most substantial dropoff, reflecting perhaps the splintering of terminology and concepts to more fine-grained conceptualisations of competitive advantage:
Foreign direct investment rose up through the literature from the early 1970s, shot up in the mid-1980s, but fell in this millenium:
What other terms should we look at?
Tags: business, FDI, foreign direct investment, global strategy, globalisation, globalization, Google, International business, MNCs, MNEs, multinational strategy, multinationals, Ngram, transnational strategy