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Liability of foreignness as a barrier to knowledge spillovers: Lost in translation?

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Author Info

  • Schmidt, Tobias
  • Sofka, Wolfgang

Abstract

Multinational corporations (MNC) search increasingly for lead market knowledge and technological expertise around the globe. We investigate whether their subsidiaries gain access to these valuable sources of host country knowledge to the same degree as domestic rivals. We develop a theoretical framework for "why" and "how" a lack of embeddedness and legitimacy (liability of foreignness) may translate into additional obstacles for foreign subsidiaries. We test these hypotheses empirically using a broad dataset of more than 1100 firms in Germany. We find that MNCs can compete on an equal footing with host country competitors when it comes to generating impulses for innovations from universities. They are significantly challenged by liabilities of foreignness, though, when host country customers are involved. The disadvantages are especially pronounced when the host country industry is at the technological forefront. We suggest that the disadvantages arising from liability of foreignness in the host country are especially relevant when promising lead customers have to be identified and their tacit and often unarticulated impulses have to be transferred, understood and prioritized. Management recommendations are developed on the basis of these results.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of International Management.

Volume (Year): 15 (2009)
Issue (Month): 4 (December)
Pages: 460-474

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Handle: RePEc:eee:intman:v:15:y:2009:i:4:p:460-474

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Related research

Keywords: Liability of foreignness Knowledge spillover Legitimacy;

References

References listed on IDEAS
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Jörg Zimmermann & Wolfgang Sofka, 2013. "Knowledge search versus knowledge deployment: How foreignness can be both an asset and a liability for firms," JRC-IPTS Working Papers on Corporate R&D and Innovation 2013-03, Institute of Prospective Technological Studies, Joint Research Centre.
  2. Filatotchev, Igor & Liu, Xiaohui & Lu, Jiangyong & Wright, Mike, 2011. "Knowledge spillovers through human mobility across national borders: Evidence from Zhongguancun Science Park in China," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 40(3), pages 453-462, April.
  3. Jisun Yu & Sung Kim, 2013. "Understanding liability of foreignness in an Asian business context: A study of the Korean asset management industry," Asia Pacific Journal of Management, Springer, vol. 30(4), pages 1191-1217, December.
  4. LOPES BENTO Cindy & HOTTENROTT Hanna, 2012. "(International) R&D Collaboration and SMEs: The effectiveness of targeted public R&D support schemes," CEPS/INSTEAD Working Paper Series 2012-36, CEPS/INSTEAD.
  5. Michele Meoli & Stefano Paleari & Silvio Vismara, 2013. "Completing the technology transfer process: M&As of science-based IPOs," Small Business Economics, Springer, vol. 40(2), pages 227-248, February.
  6. Denk, Nikola & Kaufmann, Lutz & Roesch, Jan-Frederik, 2012. "Liabilities of Foreignness Revisited: A Review of Contemporary Studies and Recommendations for Future Research," Journal of International Management, Elsevier, vol. 18(4), pages 322-334.
  7. Hottenrott, Hanna & Lopes-Bento, Cindy, 2014. "(International) R&D collaboration and SMEs: The effectiveness of targeted public R&D support schemes," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 43(6), pages 1055-1066.

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