Global Cities and Liability of Foreignness


European Journal of International Management

2016, vol. 10, n°1, pp.78-94

Départements : Stratégie et Politique d’Entreprise

Mots clés : global cities; liability of foreignness; multinational enterprises; MNEs; institutional distance; location choices; cosmopolitanism; service availability; advanced producer services; interconnectedness; Nordic countries; Japan; industrial characteristics; globalisation

In this paper, we combine the concepts of location, liability of foreignness (LoF), and their relation to factors that drive multinational enterprises (MNEs) towards, or away from, global cities. We argue that three interrelated characteristics of global cities - cosmopolitanism, availability of advanced producer services, and interconnectedness - help MNEs to overcome the liability of foreignness. We operationalise liability of foreignness as institutional distance and analyse its influence on the worldwide location of a large sample of subsidiaries of Nordic and Japanese MNEs. Our results indicate that MNEs have a stronger propensity to locate in global cities than in metropolitan or peripheral areas, and that these locational choices are affected by institutional distance and industrial characteristics. The results provide empirical support for our argument that locating in a global city can reduce the liability of foreignness suffered by MNEs, and that global cities play a central role in the process of globalisation