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Organizing global R&D: challenges and dilemmas

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  • von Zedtwitz, Maximilian
  • Gassmann, Oliver
  • Boutellier, Roman

Abstract

After more than a decade of widespread global R&D expansion, top managers in multinational companies take decentralized competencies for granted, expecting their international research and product development functions to deliver results. However, based on more than 150 in-depth interviews and case research carried out with 18 multinational companies from three industry groups between 1996 and 2000, we have identified six fundamental dilemmas that make it difficult even for companies with carefully managed distributed R&D networks to exploit the full potential of global innovation. In addition to a root-problem analysis, we surveyed these companies about the drivers of R&D globalization, and how these drivers would affect their organizations over the next 10 years. Although some of the trends that emerged are industry specific with regard to technology development, we describe five common traits that are expected to shape R&D organization in the mid-term future.

Suggested Citation

  • von Zedtwitz, Maximilian & Gassmann, Oliver & Boutellier, Roman, 2004. "Organizing global R&D: challenges and dilemmas," Journal of International Management, Elsevier, vol. 10(1), pages 21-49.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:intman:v:10:y:2004:i:1:p:21-49
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Howells, Jeremy R., 1995. "Going global: The use of ICT networks in research and development," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 24(2), pages 169-184, March.
    2. Robert C Ronstadt, 1978. "International R & D: The Establishment and Evolution of Research and Development Abroad by Seven U.S. Multinationals," Journal of International Business Studies, Palgrave Macmillan;Academy of International Business, vol. 9(1), pages 7-24, March.
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    Cited by:

    1. Aschhoff, Birgit & Baier, Elisabeth & Crass, Dirk & Hud, Martin & Hünermund, Paul & Köhler, Christian & Peters, Bettina & Rammer, Christian & Schricke, Esther & Schubert, Torben & Schwiebacher, Franz, 2013. "Innovation in Germany - Results of the German CIS 2006 to 2010. Background report on the Innovation Surveys 2007, 2009 and 2011 of the Mannheim Innovation Panel," ZEW Dokumentationen 13-01, ZEW - Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung / Center for European Economic Research.
    2. Petr Pavlínek, 2012. "The Internationalization of Corporate R&D and the Automotive Industry R&D of East-Central Europe," Economic Geography, Clark University, vol. 88(3), pages 279-310, July.
    3. Peters, Bettina & Schmiele, Anja, 2010. "The influence of international dispersed vs. home-based R&D on innovation performance," ZEW Discussion Papers 10-102, ZEW - Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung / Center for European Economic Research.
    4. Keupp, Marcus Matthias & Gassmann, Oliver, 2009. "Why do transnational approaches to international innovation fail?," Research in International Business and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 23(2), pages 206-222, June.
    5. Keupp, Marcus M. & Gassmann, Oliver, 2009. "International innovation and strategic initiatives: A research agenda," Research in International Business and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 23(2), pages 193-205, June.
    6. Williams, Christopher, 2009. "Subsidiary-level determinants of global initiatives in multinational corporations," Journal of International Management, Elsevier, vol. 15(1), pages 92-104, March.
    7. Filippaios, Fragkiskos & Papanastassiou, Marina & Pearce, Robert & Rama, Ruth, 2009. "New forms of organisation and R&D internationalisation among the world's 100 largest food and beverages multinationals," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 38(6), pages 1032-1043, July.
    8. Behrens, Vanessa & Berger, Marius & Hud, Martin & Hünermund, Paul & Iferd, Younes & Peters, Bettina & Rammer, Christian & Schubert, Torben, 2017. "Innovation activities of firms in Germany - Results of the German CIS 2012 and 2014: Background report on the surveys of the Mannheim Innovation Panel Conducted in the Years 2013 to 2016," ZEW Dokumentationen 17-04, ZEW - Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung / Center for European Economic Research.
    9. Consoli,Davide & Elche,Dioni, 2014. "An analysis of the knowledge base of Scientific Research & Development Business Services," INGENIO (CSIC-UPV) Working Paper Series 201401, INGENIO (CSIC-UPV).

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