Location-specificity and Geographic Competition for Remote Workers

Thomaz Teodorovicz, Prithwiraj Choudhury, Evan Starr

Research output: Working paperResearch


The precipitous growth of remote work has given rise to a new phenomenon: geographic competition between localities for the physical presence of remote workers. Remote workers with high general human capital may create value for their new destinations and reverse net talent outflow from smaller cities in middle America and globally. However, localities seeking to attract, retain, and create value from so-called “digital nomads” face significant challenges because such workers may have a low attachment to their new destination. Analogizing these challenges to the problem of creating and capturing value from workers with general human capital, we argue that localities can compete for remote workers by leveraging locationspecific attributes which create value for the individual and the locality. We examined these ideas in the context of Tulsa Remote, a program that provides relocation incentives and a bundle of services to increase engagement and embeddedness in Tulsa, Oklahoma. We found that Tulsa Remote increased community engagement, real income, and entrepreneurship of remote workers, benefiting both the community and the individual. Tulsa Remote increased worker’s willingness to stay, and local community engagement is a key driver of this relationship. This work thus suggests that location-specificity enables localities to both create and capture value from remote workers.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationBoston
PublisherHarvard Business School
Number of pages44
Publication statusPublished - May 2023
SeriesHarvard Business School Working Paper


  • Geographic competition
  • Remote work
  • Location-specificity
  • General human capital
  • Pro-sociality

Cite this