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The brokerage role of small states and territories in global corporate networks

Kirsten Martinus, Thomas Sigler, Iacopo Iacopini and Ben Derudder

Growth and Change, 2021, vol. 52, issue 1, 12-28

Abstract: Global economic activity is networked through cross‐national linkages between firm headquarters, branches, and subsidiaries. Brokerage emerges as a key territorial function of this network, with some places acting as gateways or intermediaries for flows of global knowledge, information, or trade. This function is particularly salient for small states and territories leveraging the benefits of borrowed size by offering global professional services, warehousing, logistics, shipping, and finance to wealthy nations or high net individuals. Nonetheless, to date our understanding of how small states and territories facilitate wealth accumulation is limited to broad concepts of their role as “gateways” or “brokers.” Drawing on a typology of brokerage and a network analysis applied to the ties between approximately 700,000 firm headquarter and subsidiary locations of 13 of the world's largest stock exchanges, we explore the brokerage role of small states and territories through case studies of Luxembourg, Singapore, Hong Kong, and Panama. Brokerage is found to play an important role in the economy of all four. We argue that each of these small states and territories is uniquely positioned as a broker in global corporate networks, but that this role differs according to geo‐economic and political positionality.

Date: 2021
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