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The spatiality of Irish manufacturing linkages in the ‘Celtic Tiger’ era

Nicola Brennan, Proinnsias Breathnach


Manufacturing investment from abroad has been of immense importance to Ireland’s economic development in recent decades. In particular, high levels of foreign investment in manufacturing were the main contributor to the unprecedented economic growth rates from the early 1990s which led to Ireland’s economy being compared with the Asian ‘Tigers’. Clearly it is desirable from a national economic point of view that the current base of foreign manufacturing firms should remain as embedded as possible. In this respect, the low level of local linkages developed by foreign firms has been a constant concern for policymakers. A number of studies have been conducted on the nature of linkages developed within the Irish economy by foreign-owned manufacturing plants in terms of the nature of these linkages and their potential for further development. However, there has been little research on the spatial patterns of external linkages of the plants in question. Based on a survey of 91 firms in four key manufacturing sectors, this paper examines the spatial configuration of the material input linkages of Irish manufacturing industry. The findings show that major sectoral variations exist in the spatiality of the linkage structures of Irish manufacturing industry. The paper concludes with a discussion of the possible implications of these variations for the future stability and embeddedness of manufacturing firms in the Irish economy.

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