Examining the Spatial Organisation of KIBS: Evidence from British Advertising Agencies and their Clients

Student thesis: Phd


The focus of this thesis lies in trying to understand the spatial organisation of KIBS. Through the British advertising industry's empirical lens, this thesis seeks to contribute towards the understanding of both the spatial distribution of KIBS and their spatial relationships with their clients. Included in this thesis are three research articles that seek to address these two focal points. The first paper of the thesis contributes by mapping out the location of the top advertising outside of the largest metropolitan area – London, as well as to examine the spatial characteristics of their procurement. Through the use of a novel dyadic dataset, this paper contributes two main findings. Firstly, this paper shows that outside of Central London, advertising agencies are relatively footloose. It even identifies several top regional agencies located in unexpected places. This suggests that outside of London, agglomeration effects are not as critical as imagined within the literature. Secondly, this paper also contributes by highlighting the presence of ‘reverse Christallerian’ patterns of procurement behaviour which raises some questions surrounding the tradability of KIBS. While the first paper 1 outlines the patterns of KIBS procurement, paper 2 examines forces that influence clients’ choice of advertising agencies. Building on the ideas of the Global City and liabilities of foreignness, this article seeks to demonstrate how the extent of internationalisation can influence clients’ choice of advertising. The findings suggest that a high degree of internationalisation amongst clients increases their tendencies to fulfil their advertising needs from the most internationalised advertising agencies. Such exogenous forces pose a challenge to a line of inquiry within KIBS research that tends to assume demand for KIBS is localised. Finally, the third paper investigates the spatial consolidation of advertising agency networks that is a trend that is currently transforming the British advertising landscape. Besides, this article also investigates new hotpots of advertising far away from the British advertising sector’s traditional home of Soho and Fitzrovia. This article contributes by developing propositions surrounding the rationales and limitations of such a strategy.
Date of Award1 Aug 2022
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorBruce Tether (Supervisor)


  • economic geography
  • KIBS
  • creative industries

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