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Changing perspectives on the internationalization of R&D and innovation by multinational enterprises: A review of the literature

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  • Marina Papanastassiou

    (Middlesex University Business School)

  • Robert Pearce

    (University of Reading)

  • Antonello Zanfei

    (University of Urbino)

Abstract

Internationalization of R&D and innovation by multinational enterprises (MNEs) has undergone a gradual and comprehensive change in perspective over the past 50 years. From sporadic works in the late 1950s and in the 1960s, it became a systematically analyzed topic in the 1970s, starting with pioneering reports and “foundation texts”. Our review unfolds the theoretical and empirical evolution of the literature from dyadic interpretations of centralization versus decentralization of R&D by MNEs to more comprehensive frameworks, wherein established MNEs from advanced economies still play a pivotal role, but new players and places also emerge in the global generation and diffusion of knowledge. Hence, views of R&D internationalization increasingly rely on concepts, ideas, and methods from IB and other related disciplines such as industrial organization, international economics, and economic geography. Two main findings are highlighted. First, scholarly research pays increasing attention to the network-like characteristics of international R&D activities. Second, different streams of literature have emphasized the role of location-specific factors in R&D internationalization. The increasing emphasis on these aspects has created new research opportunities in some key areas, including inter alia: cross-border knowledge-sourcing strategies, changes in the geography of R&D and innovation, and the international fragmentation of production and R&D activities.

Suggested Citation

  • Marina Papanastassiou & Robert Pearce & Antonello Zanfei, 2020. "Changing perspectives on the internationalization of R&D and innovation by multinational enterprises: A review of the literature," Journal of International Business Studies, Palgrave Macmillan;Academy of International Business, vol. 51(4), pages 623-664, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:pal:jintbs:v:51:y:2020:i:4:d:10.1057_s41267-019-00258-0
    DOI: 10.1057/s41267-019-00258-0
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    2. Pei Sun & Ziliang Deng & Mike Wright, 0. "Partnering with Leviathan: The politics of innovation in foreign-host-state joint ventures," Journal of International Business Studies, Palgrave Macmillan;Academy of International Business, vol. 0, pages 1-26.
    3. Cheng-Wei Wu & Jeffrey J. Reuer, 2021. "Effects of R&D Investments and Market Signals on International Acquisitions: Evidence from IPO Firms," Journal of Risk and Financial Management, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 14(5), pages 1-27, April.
    4. Heike Belitz & Anna Lejpras, 2021. "R&D Internationalization Strategies of the World’s Top Corporate R&D Investors," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 1942, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
    5. Pei Sun & Ziliang Deng & Mike Wright, 2021. "Partnering with Leviathan: The politics of innovation in foreign-host-state joint ventures," Journal of International Business Studies, Palgrave Macmillan;Academy of International Business, vol. 52(4), pages 595-620, June.

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