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Global Idea Sourcing: An Empirical Investigation into the Mechanisms Behind the Usage of Foreign Business Sources for Innovation

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  • Sofka, Wolfgang

Abstract

Globalization has set new paradigms, especially in the business world. Breakthroughs in technology (telecommunications, logistics, the internet) and ideology (most notably economic and political trends in China and India) are creating exciting opportunities as well as crucial challenges. This paper analyses one of the core aspects of competitiveness: a firm?s ability to innovate in a globalized environment. We question whether it is universally advantageous to directly invest abroad and argue instead that a company may use its international value chain (customers, suppliers and competitors) to utilize foreign sources for innovation at home. We suggest a combination of three factors to identify and explain such innovation strategies: access, need and absorptive capacities. Our empirical analysis rests upon a broad data sample of almost 2,300 German companies for which we devised a trivariate probit model. In essence, we find a market-seeking strategy for using foreign customers as a source for innovation that is more beneficial to standardized products and becomes more feasible if the lead status of domestic customers is limited. What is more, internalizing this link with foreign customers becomes preferable as their importance as a driver of sales increases. For foreign suppliers we identify a risk-sharing and technologyseeking strategy as a reaction to more dynamic domestic markets and a less favorable domestic environment in both research and regulation. Hence, companies optimize or augment their innovation activities by invoking ideas from foreign suppliers. Then again, companies rely on foreign competitors for technology-seeking as those sources become more readily available and crucial in international competition. --

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by ZEW - Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung / Center for European Economic Research in its series ZEW Discussion Papers with number 05-53.

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Date of creation: 2005
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Handle: RePEc:zbw:zewdip:4279

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Keywords: innovation strategy; globalization; external sources;

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  1. Alan M Rugman & Alain Verbeke, 1998. "Multinational Enterprises and Public Policy," Journal of International Business Studies, Palgrave Macmillan, vol. 29(1), pages 115-136, March.
  2. Bas, Christian Le & Sierra, Christophe, 2002. "'Location versus home country advantages' in R&D activities: some further results on multinationals' locational strategies," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 31(4), pages 589-609, May.
  3. Reinhilde Veugelers & Bruno Cassiman, 2000. "Importance of international linkages for local know-how flows. Some econometric evidence from Belgium," Economics Working Papers 434, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra.
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  5. Mansfield, Edwin & Romeo, Anthony, 1980. "Technology Transfer to Overseas Subsidiaries by U.S.-Based Firms," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 95(4), pages 737-50, December.
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  7. Sofka, Wolfgang & Schmidt, Tobias, 2004. "I Like The Way You Move: An Empirical Investigation into the Mechanisms Behind First Mover and Follower Strategies," ZEW Discussion Papers 04-87, ZEW - Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung / Center for European Economic Research.
  8. Maurseth, Per Botolf & Verspagen, Bart, 2002. " Knowledge Spillovers in Europe: A Patent Citations Analysis," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 104(4), pages 531-45, December.
  9. Mezias, John M., 2002. "How to identify liabilities of foreignness and assess their effects on multinational corporations," Journal of International Management, Elsevier, vol. 8(3), pages 265-282.
  10. Giovanni Peri, 2005. "Determinants of Knowledge Flows and Their Effect on Innovation," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 87(2), pages 308-322, May.
  11. Peter W Liesch & Gary A Knight, 1999. "Information Internalization and Hurdle Rates in Small and Medium Enterprise Internationalization," Journal of International Business Studies, Palgrave Macmillan, vol. 30(2), pages 383-394, June.
  12. Walter Kuemmerle, 1999. "The Drivers of Foreign Direct Investment into Research and Development: An Empirical Investigation," Journal of International Business Studies, Palgrave Macmillan, vol. 30(1), pages 1-24, March.
  13. Michael D Lord & Annette L Ranft, 2000. "Organizational Learning About New International Markets: Exploring the Internal Transfer of Local Market Knowledge," Journal of International Business Studies, Palgrave Macmillan, vol. 31(4), pages 573-589, December.
  14. Miller, Stewart R. & Richards, Malika, 2002. "Liability of foreignness and membership in a regional economic group: Analysis of the European Union," Journal of International Management, Elsevier, vol. 8(3), pages 323-337.
  15. Michael E. Porter & Scott Stern, 2000. "Measuring the "Ideas" Production Function: Evidence from International Patent Output," NBER Working Papers 7891, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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