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Do subsidiaries of foreign MNEs invest more in R&D than domestic firms?

  • Un, C. Annique
  • Cuervo-Cazurra, Alvaro

Despite the growing involvement of multinational enterprises (MNEs) in foreign-based research and development (R&D), there has been little research comparing R&D investments of subsidiaries of foreign MNEs to domestic firms. Subsidiaries of foreign MNEs enjoy advantages that help them compete against domestic firms. However, when deciding on R&D investments, these advantages exert competing influences on their R&D investment decision. On the one hand, better access to and transfer of knowledge and technologies from the MNE and other subsidiaries and centers of excellence may encourage the subsidiary of a foreign MNE to invest less in R&D relative to a domestic firm. On the other hand, better access to sources of capital through the MNE and other subsidiaries may induce the subsidiary to invest more in R&D in comparison to domestic firms. We find that subsidiaries of foreign MNEs invest less in total R&D than domestic firms. The reason is that they invest less in external R&D than domestic firms; however, they have similar internal R&D investments compared to domestic firms. These findings support the notion that the transfer of technology and knowledge from other parts of the MNE acts as a substitute for the purchase of external R&D while internal R&D acts as a complement to the technology and knowledge transferred from other parts of the MNE.

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Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Research Policy.

Volume (Year): 37 (2008)
Issue (Month): 10 (December)
Pages: 1812-1828

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Handle: RePEc:eee:respol:v:37:y:2008:i:10:p:1812-1828
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