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Institute for International Business - Research

Institute for International Business focuses on data driven research to help inform conversations.

The Global Business Environment – Economies, Institutions and Linkages

Whether operating globally, regionally or locally, business decision makers are impacted by global macroeconomic events and institutions. Businesses must be able to anticipate potential problems and navigate the institutional waters if they are to be resilient in the face of global turbulence. By drawing on its own resources and those of researchers from other parts of the university, including Project Link and the Policy and Economic Analysis Program (PEAP), IIB is well-positioned to help businesses respond effectively to the dramatic changes occurring in the global business environment. PEAP’s macroeconomic models of the Canadian and Ontario economies aid understanding of external shocks that Canada faces while Project Link analyses international linkages through the UN-sponsored consortium of national macroeconomic models that is directed from the Rotman School.

Institutions that promote innovation and competition, crucial to the sustained long term growth and prosperity of both countries and businesses, are another key focus. The activities that a firm outsources or offshores, for instance, depend in part on the firm’s ability to protect the proprietary assets embodied in or accompanying the outsourced activity. More generally, the ability of firms to compete globally is affected by the extent to which their intellectual property is protected internationally. Similarly, the incentive for firms to innovate is affected by the competitive environment in which the firm operates. The ways that governments design policies to protect intellectual property and promote competition, therefore, have an important influence on growth and prosperity. RIIB expertise in contracts, intellectual property rights, competition policy and financial market regulation well-situate the Institute to undertake frontier research on these latter questions. Additional areas of expertise within the IIB include business environments in the world’s emerging market economies, financial services regulation and fiscal, tax and monetary policies.

Enterprise Decision Making in the Global Economy

As international competition intensifies with the introduction of new technologies and the emergence of new competitors, businesses are struggling with a host of operational and strategic challenges. What used to be domestic decisions are now constrained by international considerations. The question of how a firm best competes now involves issues such as:

  • Should the supply chain be vertically integrated internationally or be disintegrated, outsourced and offshored?
  • Should market entry be through exporting or through direct investment?
  • Where should profits be taken? How can intellectual property and other intangible assets be protected?
  • How can products be best positioned and investments in new technologies best undertaken to compete globally?

Research in this area analyzes business decision making in the global environment to provide a clearer understanding of the best choices available to firms in different competitive settings. To this end, IIB is developing an outsourcing contracts data base that will support the study of questions about what activities should and should not be outsourced, how outsourcing can be done more effectively and how to rank locations to outsource different activities. In conjunction with Industry Canada and Statistics Canada, IIB is also involved in developing a large scale micro data base on firm-level decisions on such issues as supply chains, product placement, the adoption of new technologies and general business strategies. Ultimately, this data base will support more comprehensive analysis of optimal strategies for competing globally.

The Urban Service Economy

Services now dominate Canada’s economic activity and are key to future growth and prosperity. A striking feature of Canada’s service economy is that it is concentrated in a few large urban areas – Toronto, Montreal, Ottawa, Vancouver and the Calgary-Edmonton corridor. These areas comprise more than half of Canada’s population and are highly productive and innovative locations. Service industries concentrated in these areas include financial and consulting services in Toronto, pharmaceutical and technology services in Montreal, software in Ottawa and Vancouver, and energy services in Calgary and Edmonton.

Canada’s cities are crucial to a flourishing service sector. Canada’s provinces and cities must successfully compete for and retain the world’s best businesses and talent. IIB research aims to produce better urban and regional policies that promote competitiveness and focuses on the economics of urban areas and on urban and real estate policies as important determinants of competitiveness.

Organization of Research

The Institute for International Business facilitates and coordinates research, reaches out to other parts of the University of Toronto and to international partners and collaborators. IIB is the focal point for fundraising for research and any new entities, such as the Centre for Real Estate and Urban Economics. IIB also disseminates research through publications, sponsorship of technical workshops and by organizing seminars and regular public forums.