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Offshoring of R&D: Looking abroad to improve innovation performance


  • María Jesús Nieto

    (Business Management Division, University Carlos III of Madrid, Madrid, Spain)

  • Alicia Rodríguez

    (Business Management Division, University Carlos III of Madrid, Madrid, Spain)


The offshoring of knowledge services has become a phenomenon of increasing importance for firms, but many of its implications are yet to be discussed thoroughly. This paper analyzes whether R&D offshoring contributes to enhancing firms’ innovation capabilities. Specifically, the study distinguishes between two governance models of offshoring – captive offshoring and offshore outsourcing – and two types of innovation outcomes – product and process innovations. We suggest that R&D offshoring has different impacts, depending on the innovation results and governance models considered. The study empirically tests these relationships using the Spanish Technological Innovation Panel. This survey contains information on a large sample of firms from diverse sectors for the period 2004–2007. The empirical findings allow us confirm our hypotheses, and highlight the strategic importance of R&D offshoring. The empirical evidence reveals a positive relation between offshoring and innovation performance, with a greater effect on product than on process innovations. The results for different governance models show that captive offshoring has a greater effect on innovation outcomes than offshore outsourcing. These findings lead us to conclude that firms that look overseas can benefit from location-specific and specialization advantages to improve innovation performance.

Suggested Citation

  • María Jesús Nieto & Alicia Rodríguez, 2011. "Offshoring of R&D: Looking abroad to improve innovation performance," Journal of International Business Studies, Palgrave Macmillan;Academy of International Business, vol. 42(3), pages 345-361, April.
  • Handle: RePEc:pal:jintbs:v:42:y:2011:i:3:p:345-361

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