We combine the concept of location derived by economic geographers with theories of the multinational enterprise (MNE) and the liability of foreignness developed by international business scholars, to examine the factors that propel MNEs toward, or away from, “global cities”. We argue that three distinctive characteristics of global cities – global interconnectedness, cosmopolitanism, and abundance of advanced producer services – help MNEs overcome the costs of doing business abroad, and we identify the contingencies under which these characteristics combine with firm attributes to exert their strongest influence. Consistent with these arguments, our analysis of a large sample of MNE location decisions using a multilevel multinomial model suggests not only that MNEs have a strong propensity to locate within global cities, but also that these choices are associated with a nuanced interplay of firm- and subsidiary-level factors, including investment motives, proprietary capabilities, and business strategy. Our study provides important insights for international business scholars by shedding new light on MNE location choices and also contributes to our understanding of economic geography by examining the heterogeneous strategies and capabilities of MNEs – the primary agents of economic globalization – that shape the nature of global cities.
Journal of International Business Studies, 2013, Vol 44, Issue 5
Global cities; Liability of foreignness; Foreign direct investment; Alliances and joint ventures; Location strategy; Internationalization