Spatial Knowledge Strategies

Authors: Pengfei Li*, , Harald Bathelt, University of Toronto
Topics: Economic Geography
Keywords: spatial knowledge strategies, , knowledge replicating, knowledge scouting, knowledge connecting, knowledge integrating
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/6/2019
Start / End Time: 9:55 AM / 11:35 AM
Room: Jefferson, Marriott, Mezzanine Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


This paper explores how firms strategically leverage the uneven geography of knowledge through FDIs. Related to the firms’ spatial sources of knowledge and modes of connection, we develop a typology of four spatial knowledge strategies: replicating, scouting, connecting and integrating. Distinguishing between cluster and non-cluster locations, we develop four propositions regarding the spatial networks created by these knowledge strategies. We propose that replicating and scouting strategies occur in a context from clusters to non-clusters and from non-clusters to clusters, respectively, while connecting and integrating happen in a context from clusters to clusters. Based on interviews with 49 headquarter-subsidiary cases of MNEs between Canada and China, we conduct a fuzzy-set comparative qualitative analysis which provides strong evidence to support our propositions. The four spatial knowledge strategies reveal the diverse practices of how firms utilize knowledge differences across space. While it is well-documented in economic geography that knowledge tends to cluster spatially, our analysis suggests firms actively employ strategies to modify or consolidate the uneven geography of knowledge through FDIs

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