The decay of location advantages and the substitutive role of firm-specific advantages in technology-based manufacturing
PurposeThis research aims to provide a new perspective on the evolving linkages between LAs and FSAs in the context of the technology-based manufacturing industry. Firm-level competitive strengths in an international context build upon the combination of (largely) exogenous location advantages (LAs) and endogenous firm-specific advantages (FSAs). The authors focus especially on the decay of LAs over time, which has been observed in many highly developed countries during the past decades. The authors show how the strengthening of FSAs can substitute for decaying LAs, thereby safeguarding against the demise of entire industrial regions.Design/methodology/approachThe authors examine the technology-based manufacturing industry in Belgium, building upon an analysis of survey responses by 66 firms including a subgroup of 26 multinational enterprise (MNE) subsidiaries. The professional association representing this industry in Belgium (Agoria) viewed the firms included in the survey as representative for Belgian technology-based manufacturing in terms of the LAs they presently build upon (or location disadvantages they face) and the internal strengths they command relative to (foreign) rivals. The investigation uncovered the decay of critical LAs in Belgium and in parallel, the rise of 'compensating' FSAs of Belgian operations relative to foreign firms, including, especially, MNE sister subsidiaries in other countries. The authors also conducted 23 in-depth interviews with senior level managers (CEOs and senior vice presidents) of technology-based firms, including 10 subsidiaries of foreign-owned MNEs, which validated our analysis of the interplay between LAs and FSAs.FindingsThe findings reveal that since inception, Belgian manufacturing operations experienced an overall decay in their critical LAs by 23% on average. Despite this, several Belgian subsidiaries of foreign MNEs consider themselves as commanding a resource-base superior to that of the next-best-in-class subsidiaries. Furthermore, when assessing the dynamic interplay between LAs and FSAs, there is some evidence that the decay of LAs fueled the quest for - and firm-level journey toward - stronger FSAs.Originality/valueThe originality of this study is the alternative perspective to the conventionally assumed "positive-positive" relationship between LAs and FSAs. Prior management research has not examined the impact of decaying LAs on new FSA-creation in the realm of technology-based manufacturing.
Source (journal)
Competitiveness review / American Society for Competitiveness. - Indiana, Pa, 1991, currens
Leeds : Emerald group publishing ltd , 2024
1059-5422 [print]
2051-3143 [online]
34 :2 (2024) , p. 468-487
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Publications with a UAntwerp address
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Web of Science
Creation 04.03.2024
Last edited 22.04.2024
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