Global Cities, Foreign SMEs and Access to Emerging Markets: A Conceptual and Empirical Research Discussion

Friday, 3 July 2015: 10:15 AM-11:45 AM
CLM.B.05 (Clement House)
Philippe Regnier, School of Management Fribourg, Fribourg, Switzerland
Pascal Olivier Wild, University of Geneva, Geneva, Switzerland; School of Management Fribourg, Fribourg, Switzerland
It is scientifically documented that global cities (about 75 global cities classified in various global rankings) are economic and financial hubs serving transnational corporations (TNCs) and large-scale national firms. However, the study of global cities has been seldom cross-fertilized with the study of SME internationalization and transnational activities of SMEs.

Since the 1990s, a variety of urban development specialists have established that the globalization of production networks combined with the introduction of new international communication technologies have not led to a decrease importance of global cities, but on the contrary to their additional and rapid densification of highly specialized services serving TNCs, and valorizing such metropolises even more.

The proposed hypothesis suggests that global cities may also play a substantial role in providing various business development services facilitating the internationalization of foreign SMEs to distant regional markets, and especially to growth-driven but risky  emerging economies such as China and Southeast Asia.

The proposed research paper opens a discussion how to produce an original combination between (i) an existing  corpus of scientific knowledge dealing with the internationalization of SMEs (developed mainly by economics and management sciences), and (ii) an existing corpus of scientific knowledge dealing with global cities (developed mainly by urban history, geography and sociology).

The authors further suggest the construction of an interdisciplinary conceptual framework borrowing from various global production network theories, which are highly present in both entrepreneurship and SME studies on the one hand, and in the study of urban transnational development, global cities and inter-city relations.

The paper finally explores the tentative construction of an empirical research methodology, which is being tested in the study case of the internationalization of Swiss SMEs on East Asian emerging markets, and the intermediation role of four global cities: two global city-states with no hinterland (Hong Kong and Singapore), and two emerging global cities also serving vast hinterlands (Bangkok and Shanghai).  SME data is derived from Swiss and local sources, and global city data is based on the GaWC international research network (Global and World Cities Research Network, UK), and on local sources in the four global cities concerned.