The strategic localization of transnational retailers: The case of Samsung-Tesco in South Korea

Neil M. Coe, Yong Sook Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article contributes to the small but growing geographic literature on the internationalization of retailing by exploring the strategic localization of transnational retailers. While it has long been recognized that firms in many different sectors localize their activities to meet the requirements of different national and local markets, the imperative is particularly strong for retail transnational corporations (TNCs) because of the extremely high territorial embeddedness of their activities. This embeddedness can be seen through the ways in which retailers seek to establish and maintain extensive store networks, adapt their offerings to various cultures of consumption, and manage the proliferation of connections to the local supply base. We illustrate these conceptual arguments through a case study of the Samsung-Tesco joint venture in South Korea, profiling three particular aspects of Samsung-Tesco's strategic localization: the localization of products, the localization of sourcing, and the localization of staffing and strategic decision making. In conclusion, we argue that the strategic localization of transnational retailers needs to be conceptualized as a dynamic that evolves over time after initial inward investment and that localization should be seen as a two-way dynamic that has the potential to have a wider impact on the parent corporation. © 2006 Clark University.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)61-88
Number of pages27
JournalEconomic Geography
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2006


  • Embeddedness
  • Global production networks
  • Retailing
  • Samsung-Tesco
  • South Korea
  • Strategic localization


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