Multinational corporations in developed countries have begun to set up overseas R&D units since the 1970s, transferring the leading technology from parent companies and supporting the production and sales activities of subsidiaries. With the advent of globalization, the advantages of technology and talents of different industries in different countries have gradually emerged. Overseas R&D units start to play the role of absorbing advanced technological knowledge and acquiring innovative resources. Since the 1990s, scholars have mainly studied the motivation, determinants, location choices, structural forms and evolution modes of R&D internationalization by MNCs. In addition, innovation performance is also one of the core focuses in this research field. The mainstream research generally believes that overseas R&D activities will promote the innovation performance of the focal enterprises. However, recent studies also suggest the inverted U-shaped, U-shaped and even negative relationships between R&D internationalization and innovation performance. Why are there so many diverse and even contradictory conclusions? Is there an integrated theoretical framework explaining the different effects of R&D internationalization on corporate innovation performance? Through theoretical deduction and literature review, this paper analyzes the theoretical process of R&D internationalization on corporate innovation performance and conducts future research prospects. This paper collects related literature since the 1990s. It proposes an integrated framework of R&D internationalization on innovation performance, from the perspectives of knowledge based view, social embeddedness theory, organizational learning and institutional theory. It interprets the framework of the positive impact process as external embeddedness to receive knowledge spillovers, internal embeddedness to achieve reverse knowledge transfer, knowledge absorption and integrated innovation, and the negative impact process due to increased communication and coordination costs, reduction of economies of scale and scope, and liability of foreignness. Therefore, when R&D internationalization brings more benefits to focal enterprises than costs, the innovation performance will show an increase; otherwise it will show a decline. In addition, due to the differences of empirical analysis contingencies, objects, and stages of R&D internationalization, the relative benefits and costs of overseas R&D activities will be different, which results in different relationships between R&D internationalization and innovation performance. Finally, based on the problems and deficiencies of current research, this paper proposes four future research prospects: internal and external embedded mechanisms, entry barriers, new situations and new objects.This study theoretically explains the mechanism of R&D internationalization on innovation performance, and provides rich theoretical support for future empirical research. It also provides guidance to enterprises to understand the key steps and factors that affect the positive impact of R&D internationalization on enterprises’ innovation performance. It suggests enterprises to balance embeddedness of overseas R&D units both in external R&D networks of host countries and internal networks of parent companies. Besides, potential costs of R&D internationalization should be paid attention to.
An Analysis on the Procedure and Consequences of R&D Internationalization to Enterprise Innovation Performance
Foreign Economics & Management Vol. 40, Issue 09, pp. 55 - 70 (2018) DOI:10.16538/j.cnki.fem.2018.09.005
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Cite this article
Wang Zhanshuo, Xie Wei. An Analysis on the Procedure and Consequences of R&D Internationalization to Enterprise Innovation Performance[J]. Foreign Economics & Management, 2018, 40(9): 55-70.
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