Sustainable headquarters’ buildings: A multiple case study on multinational corporations in sustainable cities

Thumbnail Image
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
School of Business | Master's thesis
Degree programme
Management and International Business (MIB)
With an increasing urbanization trend, the impact of the built environment on our planet is significant. In addition to being the economic engines of the world, they contribute to several global sustainability issues such as climate change and growing inequality. As cities are home to the majority of headquarters (HQs) of multi-national corporations (MNCs), this megatrend of sustainability has raised new questions about the environmental, social, economic and cultural role of HQ buildings. Although the traditional functional roles of HQs have been widely studied in international business research, the physical HQ building, especially from the perspective of sustainability, remains unexplored. The aim of this study is two-fold: first, to understand how a sustainable headquarters’ (HQ) building con-tributes to the surrounding city and second, to explore how the sustainability strategies of multinational corporations (MNCs) are portrayed in their HQ buildings. This study was conducted as a qualitative multiple case study of four HQ buildings of MNCs which all have a special emphasis on sustainability. Three of the buildings, Google UK HQ (London), JP Morgan Chase HQ (New York) and Atlassian HQ (Sydney), are currently under construction while Siemens HQ (Munich) has already been built in 2016. We collected a multimodal dataset, consisting of 165 pieces of secondary material. The data was gathered from diverse sources, including online newspapers and magazines, company websites, architects’ and project websites, and video hosting platforms. We then used a combination of multimodal and thematic analysis to analyse the dataset. The results of this study suggest that a sustainable HQ building holds a great potential for both cities and MNCs. A sustainable HQ building is an integral part of the surrounding city, contributing to its environmental, social, economic, and cultural sustainability in various ways. An HQ of this kind participates in environmental rebuilding, provides opportunities to the community while fostering their well-being, supports local economic growth and cultivates the cultural heritage and vitality of the area. In addition, our results indicate that an HQ building has an important strategic role for an MNC as the building can be used to communicate the company’s sustainability objectives.
Thesis advisor
Piekkari, Rebecca
headquarters (HQ), sustainability, sustainable building, multinational corporation, sustainable city, strategy
Other note