Beyond embeddedness: economic practices and the invisible dimensions of transnational business activity

Embeddedness remains a central concept in much economic geographical thought for understanding how social factors influence economic activity. Recent commentators have argued for a re-conceptualization that entails a relational and processual redefinition of the concept. This paper argues, however, that there remain deep-rooted epistemological problems with embeddedness that are not overcome by this emerging re-conceptualization. It argues that the conceptual lexicon of embeddedness conflates economic action and outcomes, insufficiently captures power and agency and produces a limited understanding of the spatialized development of economic activity. It further argues that the language of embeddedness conceals dimensions to transnational business activity that require increasing theoretical attention in order to explain economic success or failure in the context of contemporary globalization. In contrast to those seeking to re-conceptualize embeddedness, the paper thus argues for a relational and associational approach centred on tracing the practices that produce economic outcomes in the contemporary global space economy. This alternative approach draws on recent contributions to actor-network theory as well as relational and topological theorizations of the nature of power and knowledge in relation to economic activity. The arguments are grounded with reference to a series of examples drawn from research into the nature of contemporary transnational firms.

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About Giorgio Bertini

Research Professor. Founder Director at Learning Change Project - Research on society, culture, art, neuroscience, cognition, critical thinking, intelligence, creativity, autopoiesis, self-organization, rhizomes, complexity, systems, networks, leadership, sustainability, thinkers, futures ++
This entry was posted in Actor-network theory, Embeddedness, Transnational firms and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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