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International knowledge sourcing: evidence from U.S. firms expanding abroad


  • Wilbur Chung
  • Stephen Yeaple


Recent research demonstrates that firms, motivated by national differences in technical activity, expand abroad to source unique knowledge. Extant research suggests that firms use a knowledge sourcing strategy to ‘catch up’ with competitors and to obtain ‘technical diversity.’ We widen the investigation by suggesting that firms also use knowledge sourcing as a springboard to reduce their next generation R&D costs–that firms would seek out similar R&D activity to combine with their own. Using unique data that encompasses the multitude of countries where U.S. firms invest, we test the importance of these explanations. Measuring knowledge via patent stocks, we find that country‐industries with larger stocks and greater technical similarity to the United States are more attractive. These findings suggest that an important explanation for firms investing abroad is not catching up or technologically diversifying, but is using similar R&D efforts of others to overcome fixed R&D cost hurdles. Copyright © 2008 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Suggested Citation

  • Wilbur Chung & Stephen Yeaple, 2008. "International knowledge sourcing: evidence from U.S. firms expanding abroad," Strategic Management Journal, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 29(11), pages 1207-1224, November.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:stratm:v:29:y:2008:i:11:p:1207-1224
    DOI: 10.1002/smj.706

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    Cited by:

    1. Stefano Elia & Surender Munjal & Vittoria G. Scalera, 0. "Sourcing Technological Knowledge Through Foreign Inward Licensing to Boost the Performance of Indian Firms: The Contingent Effects of Internal R&D and Business Group Affiliation," Management International Review, Springer, vol. 0, pages 1-27.
    2. María García-Vega & Elena Huergo, 2019. "Asymmetric additionalities between R&D outsourcing locations," Discussion Papers 2019-08, University of Nottingham, GEP.
    3. Colin Davis & Ken-ichi Hashimoto, 2019. "Innovation Offshoring with Fully Endogenous Growth," ISER Discussion Paper 1055, Institute of Social and Economic Research, Osaka University.
    4. García-Vega, María & Huergo, Elena, 2019. "The role of international and domestic R&D outsourcing for firm innovation," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 157(C), pages 775-792.
    5. Vittoria G. Scalera & Alessandra Perri & T. J. Hannigan, 2018. "Knowledge connectedness within and across home country borders: Spatial heterogeneity and the technological scope of firm innovations," Journal of International Business Studies, Palgrave Macmillan;Academy of International Business, vol. 49(8), pages 990-1009, October.
    6. Baum, Christopher F & Lööf, Hans & Stephan, Andreas & Viklund-Ros, Ingrid, 2020. "The impact of offshoring on innovation and productivity: Evidence from Swedish manufacturing firms," Working Paper Series in Economics and Institutions of Innovation 486, Royal Institute of Technology, CESIS - Centre of Excellence for Science and Innovation Studies.
    7. Pengfei Li & Harald Bathelt, 2018. "Location strategy in cluster networks," Journal of International Business Studies, Palgrave Macmillan;Academy of International Business, vol. 49(8), pages 967-989, October.
    8. Zámborský Peter & Jacobs Elena J., 2016. "Reverse Productivity Spillovers in the OECD: The Contrasting Roles of R&D and Capital," Global Economy Journal, De Gruyter, vol. 16(1), pages 113-133, March.
    9. Laura DIACONU & Andrei MAXIM, 2019. "Is human capital a major determinant for foreign investors? Comparative study between India and Romania," CES Working Papers, Centre for European Studies, Alexandru Ioan Cuza University, vol. 11(2), pages 157-169, July.
    10. Heather Berry, 2018. "The Influence of Multiple Knowledge Networks on Innovation in Foreign Operations," Organization Science, INFORMS, vol. 29(5), pages 855-872, October.

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