Economic Geography Research Group

Fostering research in Economic Geography

Download Working Paper 01.07 (PDF, 165KB).

2007 Working Papers

Working Paper 01.07

Managing the transnational law firm: professional systems, embedded actors and time-space sensitive governance

James R Faulconbridge


Relational economic geographies highlight the importance of focussing upon the multiple embedded actors influencing transnational economic activities. This paper incorporates but also moves beyond existing discussions of regulatory embeddedness and embeddedness in nationally-specific consumer markets and, using the case study of transnational law firms, begins to develop a more subtle understanding of the way the influence of the national varieties of capitalism and the institutional legacies associated with them embed workers and create national peculiar work methods and practices. The paper argues that, for law firms, literatures exploring the national systems of the professions, when coupled to understanding gleaned from studies of the varieties of capitalism, can be used to understand the influences upon the behaviours and norms of workers. When also connected to understanding of the peculiarities of management in professional firms this helps explain the approaches to globalization and governance used by transnational law firms. Using empirical data collected through interviews, the paper develops a typology of the different strategies used in different institutional contexts. It also shows that globalization has led to changing national systems, something which means the governance approaches used by transnational law firms vary over space and time.