Towards a spatially deliberative theory of the corporation: The case of corporate responses to Brexit

Authors: Crispian Fuller*, Cardiff University
Topics: Economic Geography
Keywords: Corporations, Spatial relations, Deliberations, Brexit
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/6/2019
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:40 AM
Room: Empire Room, Omni, West
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


International business studies remains firmly embedded within a theoretical paradigm where the corporation is viewed as constituted by rational actors seeking to organise physical space. In contrast, approaches within international management studies emphasise the politicised and convoluted relations of the corporation. In such thinking corporations are viewed as ‘contested terrains’ (Edwards and Bélanger, 2009), federative in nature as political bargaining is endemic, where power is enacted through ‘discursive resources’ and material means. Such theories are either focused on a ‘micro-politics’ perspective that examines the ‘contextual rationalities’ of actors in relation to broader societal institutions; or on an approach concerned with discursive struggles as a medium and outcome of political processes between corporate actors. While such approaches have advanced our understanding of the social construction of the corporation they have important deficiencies. Firstly, they significantly downplay the importance of deliberative relations between actors in producing the corporation. Secondly, these approaches ignore the role of the disparate geographical relations characterising such deliberative means. This paper critically engages a conventions approach in conceptualising the spatially performative construction of the corporation, and utilises this in the examination of the deliberative relations between foreign corporate HQs and UK-based subsidiaries in response to Brexit. In conclusion, the paper finds that Brexit is leading to the spatial reconfiguration of foreign corporations in the UK through deliberative forms emphasising the centrality of the EU political and market space, and with subsidiaries contesting such tendencies through argumentation that conveys the importance of global market spatial relations, and territorialised assets.

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