Intra and extra-firm exchanges in firm networks: A study of Korean subsidiaries in the United States and United States state offices of trade and investment in Korea
Gress, Douglas R
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This dissertation examines the nature of Korean inter, infra, and extra-firm networks through an analysis of Korean firm outward foreign direct investment (FDI) to the United States and the activity of Korean firm subsidiaries in America. Particular attention is devoted to the intra and extra-firm relationships employed by these Korean firms in and across space. Additionally, the extra-firm dimension is further explored through an examination of U.S. State Offices of Trade and Investment in Korea. The focus study of Korean subsidiaries in the United States reveals that inter, infra, and extra-firm relationships do indeed impact the location decisions made by Korean firms investing in America. Further, subsidiary managers do not perceive significant benefits from place-place competition at the country or state levels. Also, once situated in the U.S., the strength of infra-firm ties between a subsidiary and a parent firm in Korea is not diminished by a subsidiary's market power, inter-firm network power, or location in an industrial cluster. Intra-firm network power, however, does contribute to higher levels of autonomy. These findings remain consistent with the character of Korean firm networks in terms of their cultural, political, and structural embeddedness. Likewise, culturally embedded relationships between subsidiaries and parent firms are perceived by subsidiary managers to be helpful to their U.S. operations. Non-chaebol subsidiaries perceive an additional benefit from culturally embedded ties between their parent and Korean business associations, and slightly younger subsidiaries perceive a benefit from embedded relationships between their parent and the Korean government. At the extra-firm level of interaction, communications with local and state-level governments are conducted overwhelmingly at the subsidiary level, and subsidiaries do not indicate any inclination to relocate. A more robust understanding of extra-firm linkages highlights the perceptions of U.S. State Offices of Trade and Investment with regard to place-place and firm-place competition, in addition to their perceptions of the Korean firm network relationships deployed during the FDI process.