Hall, Sarah and Faulconbridge, James and Beaverstock, Jonathan and Hewitson, Andrew (2009) Exploring cultural economies of internationalisation : exploring the role of ‘iconic individuals’ and ‘brand leaders’ in global headhunting firms. Global Networks, 9 (3). pp. 399-419. ISSN 1471-0374
Understanding the internationalization of professional services like advertising, architecture, accounting, consulting and legal services continues to attract considerable attention in academic and policy circles. Research in geography and management studies has emphasized the different organizational strategies adopted by firms as they seek to develop and maintain a competitive position within an increasingly global economy. In this article we develop a new strand in this literature by adopting a cultural economy approach to argue that an important, yet comparatively neglected, aspect of the internationalization strategies of transnational professional service firms is the role of certain 'iconic individuals' and 'brand leaders' in influencing the practice of internationalization. Drawing on empirical research into the burgeoning European executive search (headhunting) industry we identify a cadre of such individuals and brand leaders that act as resources other firms leverage when internationalizing. This highlights the importance of a cultural economy perspective in theories of the internationalization of professional services and its value in moving discussions beyond purely economic analyses of competitive advantage.
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