Amazon’s HQ2 Site Selection Criteria: The New ‘Gold Standard’ in FDI Decision-Making

Open Access Journal | ISSN: 2183-7635

Article | Open Access

Amazon’s HQ2 Site Selection Criteria: The New ‘Gold Standard’ in FDI Decision-Making


  • Alfried Braumann Economic Policy and EU-Affairs Executive Department, Vienna Business Agency, Austria / Urban and Regional Research, TU Wien, Austria


Full Text   PDF (free download)
Views: 2383 | Downloads: 1678


Abstract:  In 2017–2018, Seattle-based Tech behemoth Amazon executed a highly publicised location-finding process for a $5 billion investment project, dubbed ‘HQ2’. Owing to the combination of high investment volume and the company’s unique public exposure, the HQ2 process is on course to becoming a basic yardstick for future foreign direct investment (FDI) projects all over the world. This article compiles the company’s previously unpublished site selection criteria and develops an evidence-based system of investment decision arguments which is employed to test the currently dominant approaches in location decision theory—behavioural, neoclassical, and institutional. Our results identify gaps vis-à-vis this emerging ‘Gold Standard’ and we propose the addition of a fourth, project-oriented approach to theory to fill the detected shortcomings. Furthermore, this system equips policymakers with a tool to evaluate their investment attraction strategies based on the decision criteria extracted from the HQ2 process.

Keywords:  Amazon; economic policy; foreign direct investment; HQ2; impact assessment; local economic development; location decision; policy; urban development

Published:   29 September 2020


DOI: https://doi.org/10.17645/up.v5i3.3207


© Alfried Braumann. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0), which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.