MNCs’ offshore R&D networks in host country's regional innovation system: The case of Taiwan-based firms in China
China has become a hot spot of R&D internationalization and a growing number of Taiwan-based firms have indeed set up R&D units in China. Taking into account China's substantial regional variations in economic development, innovation capacity, and knowledge productivity, such notions as regional innovation system (RIS) and local innovative milieu may become more relevant to the study on relationships between China and its inward R&D internationalization. Therefore, the key issue for this paper is what locational advantages of an RIS within a host country affect the network linkages and networking strategy of multinational corporations’ (MNCs’) offshore R&D units. The paper aims to enrich the current understanding of R&D internationalization in several ways. First, the paper attempts to examine the R&D networking underlying R&D internationalization by Taiwan-based firms in China, with particular reference to the sub-national level inside China. Second, the paper tries to establish a link between the literature of R&D internationalization and that of RIS, with a modified version of Dunning's eclectic paradigm. Efforts are made to map the relationship between foreign subsidiaries’ local R&D networks and their host RISs inside China. Third, the paper takes advantage of a government databank to adopt a quantitative approach, the Seemingly Unrelated Bivariate Probit Regression model, with foreign subsidiaries as the unit of analysis, to highlight the role played by some aspects of the RIS in determining the local R&D networking of Taiwanese subsidiaries in China. Our evident shows that MNCs’ offshore R&D units that purse home-based technology exploitation strategy, the mainstream strategy regarding the developing host country, tend to be located in a host region with a strong knowledge application and exploitation subsystem, while an RIS with a strong knowledge generation and diffusion subsystem, within such a developing country as China, may induce MNCs’ local R&D units to pursue home-base technology augmenting strategy. On balance, not only the location choice but also the local R&D linkages of MNCs’ offshore subsidiaries are related to appropriate fits between the RIS and the subsidiaries’ innovation network inside the host country.
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