Transnational corporations, global production networks, and urban and regional development

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This paper offers an economic-geographical interpretation of the role of transnational corporations (TNCs) in urban and regional development that is grounded in Dunning and Lundan's (2008) Multinational Enterprises and the Global Economy. I argue that TNCs and their activity are indisputably one of the keys to understanding urban and regional development in today's globalizing world economy. To support this perspective, I will deploy the recently developed analytical framework of global production networks (GPNs) to unpack the complex and mutually dependent relationships between TNCs and urban and regional development. The paper first provides a critique of several recent influential theories of urban and regional growth and identifies the omitted components in such important actors as TNCs. It then offers an analysis of TNCs as key agents of urban and regional development on the basis of ideas on TNC strategies, networks, and regional institutions expressed in Multinational Enterprises. Finally, I draw upon a relational view of TNCs in GPNs to illustrate how urban and regional development is increasingly a “globalizing” phenomenon. Situated in recent work in economic geography, I elaborate on the concept of strategic coupling as an interfacing mechanism bringing together TNCs and development at the urban and regional scales.