Spatial Organisation and Movements of Firms and Industries: The Role of Firm and Place in (Re)Location Research
With the onset of globalisation and ever more progressive liberalisation of international trade and investment regimes, the spatial distribution of firms and economic activities within countries and worldwide is continuously changing. In recent decades, we have often witnessed that what starts as a brave new strategy to ascertain a firm’s competitive advantage soon becomes a global relocation trend, only to evolve again and begin movement in the reverse or yet another direction. Outsourcing and offshoring-driven relocations provide the best global examples of such processes. At the regional and local scale, the fall and successful re-emergence of some of old industrial regions, particularly but not exclusively in Europe, offer relevant cases. While the local, regional and national circumstances are important, what happens in any location is increasingly influenced by its role in and the relationship to the global systems of production, trade and consumption. Rarely has it been more pronounced than at present, when the global economy is yet to fully recover from the late 2000s financial crisis, Brexit is pushing both manufacturing and financial sectors to reconsider its UK bases and national and regional policies offer generous incentives for firms willing to settle within multiple special economic zones world over. Such a dynamic environment presents a unique opportunity for research into new and emerging relocation processes, with the outlook to review and advance the theory underpinning the practice.
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