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Innovation Activities Abroad and the Effects of Liability of Foreignness: Where it Hurts

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  • Sofka, Wolfgang

Abstract

The innovation activities of foreign subsidiaries have been identified as an important source of competitive advantage for multinational corporations. The success of these engagements depends heavily on tapping host country pools of localized expertise. To achieve this foreign subsidiaries have to overcome cultural and social barriers (liability of foreignness). We derive potential stumbling blocks in the innovation process theoretically and argue that these materialize as neglected projects, cancellations or budget overruns. We test these hypotheses empirically for more than 1,000 firms with innovation activities in Germany from various sectors. We find that foreign-controlled firms are not challenged by liability of foreignness at the project mobilization stage. The lack of local embeddedness becomes more binding as projects have to be prioritized and managed which we identify as more frequent mistakes and delays. We argue that this is the result of shared practices within the multinational firm that do not readily fit into the local context. Finally, we derive management recommendations how foreign innovation engagements can achieve similar levels of effectiveness and efficiency as host country competitors. --

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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 06-29.

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Date of creation: 2006
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Handle: RePEc:zbw:zewdip:4613

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Keywords: Liability of foreignness; offshoring R&D; internationalization; innovation management;

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Cited by:
  1. Andrea Fernández-Ribas & Philip Shapira, 2009. "Technological diversity, scientific excellence and the location of inventive activities abroad: the case of nanotechnology," The Journal of Technology Transfer, Springer, vol. 34(3), pages 286-303, June.
  2. Sofka, Wolfgang & Zimmermann, Jörg, 2008. "Regional economic stress as moderator of liability of foreignness," Journal of International Management, Elsevier, vol. 14(2), pages 155-172, June.
  3. Ulrich Kaiser & Wolfgang Sofka, 2007. "The Pulse of Liability of Foreignness: Dynamic Legitimacy and Experience Effects in the German Car Market," CIE Discussion Papers 2007-01, University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics. Centre for Industrial Economics.
  4. Tiwari, Rajnish & Buse, Stephan, 2007. "Barriers to innovation in SMEs: Can the internationalization of R&D mitigate their effects?," Working Papers 50, Hamburg University of Technology (TUHH), Institute for Technology and Innovation Management.
  5. Bernhard Dachs & Bernd Ebersberger, 2009. "Does foreign ownership matter for the innovative activities of enterprises?," International Economics and Economic Policy, Springer, vol. 6(1), pages 41-57, June.
  6. Wolfgang Sofka & Jörg Zimmermann, 2007. "Regional Dimensions of Liability of Foreignness: Between a Rock and a Hard Place?," Papers on Entrepreneurship, Growth and Public Policy 2007-12, Max Planck Institute of Economics, Entrepreneurship, Growth and Public Policy Group.
  7. Tiwari, Rajnish & Buse, Stephan & Herstatt, Cornelius, 2007. "Innovation via global route: Proposing a reference model for chances and challenges of global innovation processes," Working Papers 49, Hamburg University of Technology (TUHH), Institute for Technology and Innovation Management.

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