Phelps, N.A. and Waley, P.
Capital versus the districts: A tale of one multinational company's attempt to disembed Itself
Economic Geography, 80, (2), .
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The process of international economic integration in which multinational enterprises (MNEs) play a significant orchestrating role is a contradictory one of a space of flows, on the one hand, and a space of places, on the other hand. It is this contradiction that produces a variegated landscape of relations within and among MNEs and a whole range of territorially rooted organizations and institutions.
As a result, interest in global production networks, as part of a broader relational turn in economic geography, has sought to highlight and uncover these webs of relations within which MNEs are embedded. In reviewing this literature, we emphasize the economic imperatives underlying such relations or, rather, their political-economic nature and the discontinuities in industrial restructuring they can produce. We then present an empirical illustration of these points and some of the key concerns within the literature on global production networks. We consider a recent round of restructuring by Black & Decker Corporation, focusing on the politico-economic ramifications of closing one of two European factories.
Our reading of the literature, coupled with our empirical findings, suggests the continuing tendency for international integration as a space of flows to eclipse the coherence of places. Localized points of resistance can moderate the powers exercised by MNEs internally and across a network of organizations, although there are limits to the transferability of such tactics of resistance.
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