Brokering between capital and community: location brokers and the competition for inward investment

Authors: Andrew Wood*, University of Kentucky, Nicholas Phelps*, University of Melbourne
Topics: Economic Geography, Business Geography, Political Geography
Keywords: place promotion, inward investment, location brokers
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/6/2019
Start / End Time: 9:55 AM / 11:35 AM
Room: Cleveland 2, Marriott, Mezzanine Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Over the years a significant volume of academic research has accumulated to speak to the escalation of competition for investments made by large multi-locational firms. The recent competition for Amazon’s second head office provides a particularly graphic example of how communities are locked into competition with one another. In this paper we seek to question the view that such competition for inward investment should be seen as a natural and inevitable feature of contemporary economies. To do so we examine a particular group of professionals and firms that mediate directly between capital and communities seeking inward investment. The site selector or location consultant has received relatively little attention in the academic literature and yet, as we suggest in this paper, their role provides significant insight into the creation of a ‘market for capital’ and the ways in which countries, cities and communities are positioned in the competition to attract investment. The paper examines how brokers seek to very deliberately structure the landscape of investment promotion and economic development and in doing so enable the movement of capital and the changing fortunes of communities that follows.

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