Research

Sustainable Competitiveness of Firms and Regions

The four fields of research at the core of the LBS research agenda are motivated by the main economic challenges of our time and informed by the concept of competitiveness. We understand competitiveness in a wider sense as the ability to create welfare and in a narrow sense as sustainable productivity growth with the constraint subject to a socially desirable level of employment. Yet firms have to sell their goods and services in internationally competitive markets which, together with the mobility of production factors, lead to locational competition between regions.

Globalization, technological change, climate change and migration are the main factors that shape our current economic system. Of course, these challenges are of relevance for managers and policy makers alike. We aim to analyse the causes, effects and strategic responses to the challenges at the firm and the regional level through the perspective of competitiveness.

Our overall goal is to deliver excellent research that informs the decision-making of policy makers, entrepreneurs and managers in Vienna and Austria in a way that leads to sustainable and shared welfare creation. Additionally, research should be aligned and connected with our teaching activities so that students at the LBS can learn and profit from ongoing research projects. Research at the LBS strives for academic excellence. It is contextualised and applied in nature and motivated by the economic problems of our time. 

An affiliate member of the Harvard MOC Network, LBS engages in spreading the seminal scholarship of Professor Michael E. Porter and the Institute for Strategy and Competitiveness at Harvard Business School by means of teaching, applied research, and local outreach. The Institute for Competitiveness (IoC) at LBS serves as the hub of LBS’s competitiveness-related activities. 

In addition to the following four fields of research, the LBS engages in applied contract research within the wider context of applied empirical economics and business administration.

  • Global value chains

The organization of international economic activities has changed fundamentally in the last decades (OECD 2013). It is no longer the case that firms export goods produced in the home country of the firm and within more or less vertically integrated corporations. Instead, global value chains have emerged whereby each task can be located in different regions of the global economy. A dense organizational network of international interfirm interdependencies has evolved that includes equity-based and non-equity based forms of coordination and control between firms. As a result, the prospects for increasing competitiveness of firms and regions are increasingly shaped by their positions within global value chains.

  • Innovation and industrial policy

Innovation is at the core of growth policies of rich countries and also perhaps the most promising strategy for firms to sustain their competitive advantage in the face of tough competition from foreign rivals and new entrants (Fagerberg and Mowery 2006). Innovation and the associated structural change is not a process without frictions. Losers of skill-biased technological change ask for compensation and firms may underinvest in innovation and related activities because of market power, externalities or information asymmetries. Hence, there is an important role for industrial policy to provide the right framework conditions and incentives for the business sector to engage in activities that lead to welfare increases for our society.

  • Green growth

Climate change is perhaps the most urgent problem of our time. Is it possible to prevent environmental damage in developed and developing countries without having to abandon material progress? According to the so-called Porter-hypothesis it is indeed possible to combine stricter environmental regulation of firms with an increase in their profitability (Porter and van der Line 1995). Yet, as current figures of greenhouse gas emissions demonstrate, there is not much room for optimism. However, we regard it as essential to research pathways that may lead to more sustainable business models not least because sustainability can confer a USP in a world characterized by increasingly environmentally aware consumers.

  • Migration and diversity

The fabric of European cities is constantly changed by new immigrants from different regions. Indeed, cities would not exist without immigration and the new dynamism resulting from the combination of different views and ideas about how things could be done. A number of studies have pointed out that immigrants are a source of entrepreneurship and even innovation (e.g. Ottaviano and Peri 2005). However, competition between foreign and native low-skilled workers for jobs and social security payments reveals the tensions accompanying the process of migration. We want to contribute to a better understanding of how migrants foster or reduce the competitiveness of firms and urban economies.

Our research focus corresponds with the international orientation of our degree programs and the intercultural make-up of the LBS campus and its faculty. Concurrently, it reaches out to local decision-makers in the business and public sectors. A multidisciplinary team of academic researchers and corporate practitioners conducts projects on applied business-related research problems. All stakeholders involved benefit from transnational collaboration with enterprises, non-profit organizations and other research institutes.

The LBS Research Department stands for theoretical reflection, methodological precision, and high potential for innovation. We routinely employ a wide range of quantitative (explanatory) and qualitative (exploratory) research methods.

The LBS degree programs stipulate the importance of knowledge transfer from research to teaching, the instruction of research skills and the involvement of master students in ongoing projects. Moreover, as part of a comprehensive approach to research, the Directors of Studies as well as the school’s International Office and Quality Management are coordinating their endeavors.

By the same token, we support all research projects during their stages of conceptualization, acquisition of external funding, project management, and the publication and dissemination of key research findings. Furthermore, we seek to spark a wider audience’s interest in our research activities with our Working Paper Series.

On these pages, you are invited to explore ongoing and completed research projects, and get an overview of completed master theses. Furthermore, please take a look at our Working Paper Series which presents research by faculty members, alumni and partners of LBS. We look forward to your feedbackand suggestions for co-operation. Please send your inquiries to [email protected].

LBS RESEARCH ACTIVITIES