Globalization, Digitalization, and the Location of Headquarters of Established Firms and Startups

Project Details


Headquarters (HQs), i.e., hierarchically superior units of firms, will remain important in most organizations. Yet, they will look different from those in the past. From the perspective of national economies, one of the most critical aspects in this regard is the increased mobility of HQs because of their importance for jobs and tax income. In fact, HQs of well-established firms have become more mobile recently. That is, there are increasing numbers of firms who relocate their HQ from their home country to a location abroad. We can also observe such increased mobility for ‘HQs’ of very young firms such as startups: the location that entrepreneurs choose as their home base becomes increasingly disconnected from the original home location.
We have initial research insight into the phenomenon of HQ mobility, but we lack an understanding on:
- why certain locations are chosen,
- how relocations are managed,
- how these patterns have changed over time, and
- how HQ location choice and mobility will change in times of digitalization.
Employing a unique and rich multi-method research design comprising four individual studies, we investigate the topic holistically:
1. Using a panel data set with data between 2000 and 2019, we focus on large established firms and investigate how firm internal coordination issues affect the HQ location choice and how these patterns change over time.
2. We investigate two firms longitudinally using an in-depth case study approach. We ask how and why changes in the market and institutional environment of the firm lead to changes in the HQ location.
3. We study startups and their founders’ decision to locate their business (and thus their ‘future’ HQ) at a certain location or to change that location.
4. We survey top Austria-based decision makers in established firms as well as in startups and ask how they think the ongoing digital transformation will impact HQ location choice and mobility in the future.

Financing body

Oesterreichische Nationalbank (Jubiläumsfonds)
Effective start/end date1/01/2131/12/24