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Changing perspectives on the internationalization of R&D and innovation by multinational enterprises: A review of the literature

Published on Aug 19, 2019in Journal of International Business Studies7.724
· DOI :10.1057/s41267-019-00258-0
Marina Papanastassiou17
Estimated H-index: 17
(Middlesex University),
Robert Pearce23
Estimated H-index: 23
(University of Reading),
Antonello Zanfei20
Estimated H-index: 20
(University of Urbino)
Abstract
Internationalization of R&D and innovation by multinational enterprises (MNEs) has undergone a gradual and comprehensive change in perspective over the past 50 years. From sporadic works in the late 1950s and in the 1960s, it became a systematically analyzed topic in the 1970s, starting with pioneering reports and “foundation texts”. Our review unfolds the theoretical and empirical evolution of the literature from dyadic interpretations of centralization versus decentralization of R&D by MNEs to more comprehensive frameworks, wherein established MNEs from advanced economies still play a pivotal role, but new players and places also emerge in the global generation and diffusion of knowledge. Hence, views of R&D internationalization increasingly rely on concepts, ideas, and methods from IB and other related disciplines such as industrial organization, international economics, and economic geography. Two main findings are highlighted. First, scholarly research pays increasing attention to the network-like characteristics of international R&D activities. Second, different streams of literature have emphasized the role of location-specific factors in R&D internationalization. The increasing emphasis on these aspects has created new research opportunities in some key areas, including inter alia: cross-border knowledge-sourcing strategies, changes in the geography of R&D and innovation, and the international fragmentation of production and R&D activities.
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