Steve Wood, Jonathan Reynolds; Managing communities and managing knowledge: strategic decision making and store network investment within retail multinationals. J Econ Geogr 2011; 12 (2): 539-565. doi: 10.1093/jeg/lbr038
The manner in which knowledge is spatially generated, reproduced and diffused is of interest to students of economic geography and business management alike. This article seeks to contribute to these debates by drawing on the results of a year-long study with analysts working in location-planning departments of multinational retailers to determine: (i) how different types of knowledge are mediated within organizational contexts to inform store development and (ii) the extent to which analysis can be successfully formalized into ‘best practice’. We find that while quantitative models of sales forecasting have become established, analysis on a day-to-day basis sees judgements made by analyst ‘communities’ without perfect data, as experience and intuitive insights contribute to corporate decision making. Furthermore, a number of communities-of-practice across the retail firm, consisting of actors with different backgrounds and agendas, contribute to outcomes. Understanding the power relations embedded within (and across) these communities is essential to conceptualize the store expansion process.