[Translate to English:]

HiA Project

Headquarters in Austria

The corporate landscape is currently facing major changes. Trends such as (de)globalization, digitalization, increasingly flat hierarchies, and the COVID 19 pandemic are influencing organizational structures and processes in many ways. For many companies, this means rethinking the location as well as the role and value creation of their corporate headquarters. In this context, it is important for countries like Austria to remain an attractive location for corporate headquarters.

The research project "Headquarters in Austria" (HiA-Linkedin) is an "umbrella project" for various projects and activities, which all have the goal to support companies in designing their organizations and especially their headquarters, as well as to contribute to Austria remaining an attractive location for headquarters. The pronunciation of the acronym HiA is reminiscent of the English word "here" and emphasizes the research project's focus on Austria as a HQ location.

Objectives of the project

Our objectives are:

  • Generate valuable theoretical and practical knowledge around HQs and their roles, functions, activities and locations

  • Share insights from research to a broader (non-academic) audience and thereby promote interest in HQs and an understanding of their importance

  • Provide a platform that stimulates discussions for research, education, business practice, and policymakers

The OeNB’s Anniversary Fund

An important component of HiA is a project sponsored by the OeNB Anniversary Fund. This page provides more details specific to the OeNB project entitled: "Globalization, Digitalization, and the Location of Headquarters of Established Firms and Startups."


Headquarters (HQs) of large firms are important organizational units. Yet, they will look different from those in the past. One of the most interesting aspects of change is the increased mobility of HQs. In fact, HQs have become more mobile recently. That is, there are increasing numbers of firms that relocate their HQ from their home country to a location abroad – at least partially. There is some research on this topic but we lack an understanding why certain locations are chosen, how relocations are managed, how these patterns have changed over time, and how HQ location choice and mobility will change in times of digitalization. This projects aims to shed light on these issues.

Keywords: location choice, relocation, headquarters, startups, digitalization, globalization

Subproject 1: Large quantitative longitudinal analysis of past HQ relocations

In the first subproject, we aim at examining the specific location choice in HQ relocation processes of established MNCs over time. While extant literature has primarily investigated the determinants of HQ relocations (i.e., the propensity of a certain HQ to get relocated), the goal of this project is to shed light on the location choice of HQs after the relocation. We focus especially on intermediary HQs (such as regional and divisional HQs), since they are particularly important to the Austrian economy and have a special role as ’hybrid’ units with a middle position between the corporate parent and the subsidiaries.

Subproject 2: In-depth longitudinal case analysis of past HQ relocations

In the second subproject, we open MNCs’ locational decision-making process and reveal in-depth insights on antecedents as well as consequences through case studies on carefully selected HQ relocations. The second subproject complements the results of the first subproject with an in-depth qualitative study, which should reveal the micro-dynamics of HQ relocation processes.

Subproject 3: Multi-method analysis of location choices of future HQs

While the first two subprojects focus on location choices of established firms, the third subproject focuses on the perspective of startups, which play an ever important role in the global economic landscape. As startups will be the MNCs of the future, attracting them early on yields long-term benefits for cities and countries they are located in. Therefore, it is inevitable for countries and cities to understand the criteria, which drive startups’ location choices in order to attract them to their location. Hence, we study startups and the founders’ decision to locate their business (and thus their ‘future’ HQ) at a certain location or to change that location.

Subproject 4: Survey on digitalization’s impact on (existing and future) HQ location choices

In the last subproject, we try to look into the future and investigate how HQ location choices and mobility might look like in the future. In particular, we plan on surveying top Austria-based decision makers in established firms as well as in startups and ask how they think the ongoing digital transformation will impact HQ location choices in the future. We will capture their intentions and motivations to consider (re)locations to and away from Austria. Therefore, this study will provide practitioners with additional insights about Austria’s location attractiveness and policy makers will benefit from specific recommendations on how to best prepare Austria as a highly digitalized location.

Interested in the project?

Interested in the results of our studies? Then reach out directly here to one of our team members.