Open Access Journal

ISSN: 2183-7635

Article | Open Access

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

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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 This article compiles the company’s previously unpublished site selection criteria and develops an evidence-based system of investment decision arguments which is employed to test the currently dominant approaches in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



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