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Corporate headquarters in Scotland: their nature and contribution to Scotland's economic development


The evaluation aimed to: identify the direct and indirect contribution of HQ functions to the Scottish economy, including indigenous and externally controlled HQs; set out the factors driving change in the nature and role of corporate HQs; identify emerging HQ models, the factors which determine the location of HQs and their potential mobility; suggest an HQ market segmentation to inform Scottish Enterprise’s operations; and draw out the strategic and operational implications for Scottish Enterprise.


The methodology involved five main components: a literature review; an analysis of the Ernst & Young Investment Monitor; an analysis of the Business Insider’s list of Scotland’s Top 500 companies; telephone interviews with 23 recent South East England inward investors; and interviews with senior Scottish corporate executives.


Finds that the direct contribution of HQs to the Scottish economy is limited, and that the main contribution of HQs is their longer term developmental effects. Identifies which types of HQs are most likely to have beneficial spillover effects. Concludes that HQs and organisations with purchasing autonomy play a critical role in the economic development process, arising from their actual purchases and their potential impact on innovation as ‘demanding customers’.


Does not offer recommendations, instead offers suggestions for further consideration. Suggests there is little justification for an explicit HQ strategy, because the HQ concept is too imprecise, and the issues are part of wider agendas such as the priority given to large companies or the financial sector and are already (or best) dealt with through other strategic themes.

Author Ron Botham; David Clelland; Training and Employment Research Unit, University of Glasgow
Published Year 2009
Report Type Evaluation
  • Internationalisation
    Inward investment