Multinational companies have been a force for good but, unfortunately, some misbehave. Our comprehensive literature review on multinationals’ misbehavior reveals three ideas. First, most research focuses on the interaction between the multinational and its institutional context, but insights vary depending on whether the drivers of misbehavior lie inside or outside the multinational. Second, we find a dearth of studies on social and environmental misbehavior, and an overemphasis on the study of governance dimensions, especially corruption. Third, we uncover three implicit assumptions that shaped past analyses: data availability, bad contexts leading good multinationals astray, and a focus on topical novelty.
We thank Siah Hwee Ang, Ajai Gaur, Marjorie Lyles and anonymous reviewers for useful suggestions for improvement on previous versions of the paper. For financial support, Alvaro Cuervo-Cazurra thanks the Lloyd Mullin Fellowship and Suzana Rodrigues thanks CNPq. We also thank Katie Jones for proofreading our paper. Authors appear in alphabetical order.