This paper aims to highlight that there are different levels of analysis and that there are different types of influence on the choice of R&D location and organization. Specifically, the purpose of the paper is to identify geographically dispersing and contracting forces on R&D activities, which helps bring together these two theoretical fields.
A case study approach is chosen, as data are obtained from multiple levels and perspectives. Through theoretical sampling, 47 cases were identified, and 14 selected to be included in the study. The main source of information was semi‐structured interviews.
Four dispersing and contracting forces were identified as being the most influential on the choice of a company's R&D location. The four forces each have different implications at different levels of analysis (strategic, organizational and project levels) and lead to different geographical results concerning a company's R&D location.
The paper is based on a limited sample.
R&D organization and localization are an area with different consequences, depending on which organizational level is involved and the perspective taken.
The paper brings together two schools of thought (globalization literature and communication theory) and, by doing so, improves the understanding of a complex phenomenon and reduces the risk of drawing faulty conclusions.
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