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Reverse international knowledge transfer in the MNE: (Where) does affiliate performance boost parent performance?

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  • Driffield, Nigel
  • Love, James H.
  • Yang, Yong

Abstract

We examine the extent to which the knowledge or technological capability of foreign affiliates actually enhances the performance of their parent companies. Our results draw on a firm-level panel of more than 1600 multinationals and more than 4000 of their overseas affiliates, covering 46 home and host countries. We find considerable evidence of enhanced parent productivity as a result of their affiliates’ performance, which we interpret as evidence of reverse knowledge transfer from affiliates to parents. This effect is robust to different tests including IV estimation and a falsification exercise based on unconnected ‘matched’ affiliates. We find that both physical and strategic location markedly affects the affiliate-parent relationship, and that distance reduces the positive impact that affiliate performance has on that of the parent.

Suggested Citation

  • Driffield, Nigel & Love, James H. & Yang, Yong, 2016. "Reverse international knowledge transfer in the MNE: (Where) does affiliate performance boost parent performance?," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 45(2), pages 491-506.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:respol:v:45:y:2016:i:2:p:491-506
    DOI: 10.1016/j.respol.2015.11.004
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    1. Contractor, Farok & Yang, Yong & Gaur, Ajai S., 2016. "Firm-specific intangible assets and subsidiary profitability: The moderating role of distance, ownership strategy and subsidiary experience," Journal of World Business, Elsevier, vol. 51(6), pages 950-964.
    2. repec:eee:iburev:v:26:y:2017:i:3:p:405-416 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Driffield, Nigel & Mickiewicz, Tomasz & Temouri, Yama, 2016. "Ownership control of foreign affiliates: A property rights theory perspective," Journal of World Business, Elsevier, vol. 51(6), pages 965-976.
    4. Castellani, Davide & Montresor, Sandro & Schubert, Torben & Vezzani, Antonio, 2017. "Multinationality, R&D and productivity: Evidence from the top R&D investors worldwide," International Business Review, Elsevier, vol. 26(3), pages 405-416.

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    FDI flows; Knowledge transfer; Firm performance;

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