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When Does Distributed Innovation Activity Make Sense? Location, Decentralization, and Innovation Success

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  • Leiponen, Aija
  • Helfat, Constance E.
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    Abstract

    Companies face an expanding set of choices about where to locate their innovation activity, both within their home countries and abroad. This location choice also requires firms to make a simultaneous choice about the organizational structure of innovation activity : almost by definition, multiple locations per firm imply some degree of decentralization. Using firm-level data on innovation output and the location of research and development (R&D) activity, we shed new light on the question of whether firms that have multiple locations also have greater innovation success. Our results indicate that, on average, having distributed R&D activity is beneficial in terms of the extent and breadth of innovation success, and the effect is strongly related to the knowledge sourcing strategies that firms employ. These results are consistent with the interpreta-tion that R&D location decisions are driven by the desire of firms to access a broad set of external sources of knowledge for innovation activities. We also find that the benefits of multiple R&D lo-cations do not apply to novel (new-to-the-market) innovations. Our results suggest that when analyzing technological innovation, it is important to distinguish between novel and imitative innova-tions, since their determinants may differ.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by The Research Institute of the Finnish Economy in its series Discussion Papers with number 1063.

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    Length: 32 pages
    Date of creation: 2006
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    Handle: RePEc:rif:dpaper:1063

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    Keywords: research and development; innovation; organisation; decentralisation; knowledge sourcing;

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    1. Alfred Kleinknecht & Kees Van Montfort & Erik Brouwer, 2002. "The Non-Trivial Choice between Innovation Indicators," Economics of Innovation and New Technology, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 11(2), pages 109-121.
    2. Leiponen, Aija, 2005. "Skills and innovation," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 23(5-6), pages 303-323, June.
    3. Tripsas, Mary, 1997. "Surviving Radical Technological Change through Dynamic Capability: Evidence from the Typesetter Industry," Industrial and Corporate Change, Oxford University Press, vol. 6(2), pages 341-77, March.
    4. Henderson, Rebecca. & Cockburn, Iain., 1994. "Measuring competence? : exploring firm effects in pharmaceutical research," Working papers 3712-94., Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Sloan School of Management.
    5. Teece, David J, 1977. "Technology Transfer by Multinational Firms: The Resource Cost of Transferring Technological Know-how," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 87(346), pages 242-61, June.
    6. Richard C. Levin & Alvin K. Klevorick & Richard R. Nelson & Sidney G. Winter, 1987. "Appropriating the Returns from Industrial Research and Development," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 18(3), pages 783-832.
    7. Josh Lerner & Julie Wulf, 2007. "Innovation and Incentives: Evidence from Corporate R&D," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 89(4), pages 634-644, November.
    8. Jaffe, Adam B, 1989. "Real Effects of Academic Research," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 79(5), pages 957-70, December.
    9. Kuemmerle, Walter, 1999. "Foreign direct investment in industrial research in the pharmaceutical and electronics industries--results from a survey of multinational firms," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 28(2-3), pages 179-193, March.
    10. Bruce Kogut & Udo Zander, 1993. "Knowledge of the Firm and the Evolutionary Theory of the Multinational Corporation," Journal of International Business Studies, Palgrave Macmillan, vol. 24(4), pages 625-645, December.
    11. Teece, David J., 1980. "Economies of scope and the scope of the enterprise," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 1(3), pages 223-247, September.
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