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Sallai, D., Schnyder, G., Kinderman, D. et al. The antecedents of MNC political risk and uncertainty under right-wing populist governments. J Int Bus Policy (2023).


Right-wing populist parties who obtain governmental power rely on ethno-nationalist mobilization for domestic legitimacy. They may therefore adopt policies that explicitly seek to disadvantage foreign multinational corporations (MNCs). Understanding what factors increase a foreign MNC’s exposure to adverse action by right-wing populists is an understudied question in the field of international business policy. We investigate this question in post-socialist member states of the European Union, which constitute extreme cases of right-wing populist government power. As such, they constitute a fertile ground to further our theoretical understanding of the distinction between calculable political risk and incalculable political uncertainty. Through a case study-based theory-building approach, which draws on existing literature and interview data, we derive a series of propositions and develop a research agenda. We identify factors at the country-, sector-, and firm-level that influence exposure to adverse policy action by host-country governments. We explore when political risk may turn into political uncertainty and provide suggestions to foreign MNCs operating in right-wing populist contexts on how to reduce this uncertainty. Our study provides insights for policy makers too, who should be aware of the impact political shifts towards right-wing populist governments have on political uncertainty for foreign companies.

The Illiberalism Studies Program studies the different faces of illiberal politics and thought in today’s world, taking into account the diversity of their cultural context, their intellectual genealogy, the sociology of their popular support, and their implications on the international scene.