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Policy Entrepreneurs and FDI Attraction: Canada’s Auto Industry


New perspective is provided on a critical period in the development of the Canadian automotive industry. In the 1980s, five foreign manufacturers built new vehicle assembly operations in Canada, effectively transforming that country’s automotive industry. Drawing from a combination of interviews with key actors and a review of archives, this case study makes several contributions. First, gaps are closed in the economic history of one of Canada’s most important industries. Second, the case demonstrates the capacity of using historical perspective to extend an existing theory to a new area of inquiry. In this case, Multiple Streams Theory is employed to explain the process of inward FDI attraction. This includes a description of the role of policy entrepreneurs and their capacity to create and exploit opportunities. Third, the case demonstrates the continuing relevance of integrating historical perspective to contemporary issues in business, management, and public policy.

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