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Multinational Knowledge Spillovers with Centralized versus Decentralized R&D: A Game Theoretic Approach

  • Sanna-Randaccio, Francesca
  • Veugelers, Reinhilde

This Paper provides a theoretical model on the trade-offs an MNE face when assigning subsidiaries an active role in innovation and organizing its R&D decentralized versus centralized. R&D decentralization avoids having to adapt centrally developed innovations to local markets, being able to use the specific know-how of the subsidiary. In addition R&D subsidiaries can be used to source locally available external know-how. But the MNE has to organize the transfer of local know-how internally so as to be able to benefit from this location specific know-how throughout the organization. At the same time, decentralization of R&D to the subsidiary level intensifies the challenge of effectively appropriating core technology know-how, preventing the spilling over of valuable know-how to competitors, located in the foreign markets. While R&D decentralization has repercussions on both intra-company technology transfers as well as inter-company technology spillovers, it emerges as a possible equilibrium outcome from the resulting strategic interaction between the foreign subsidiary and local competition. The proposed model treats both internal and external spillovers in a game-theoretic context explicitly recognizing that absorptive capacity is required to be able to use external spillovers. The analysis suggests that a strong local know-how base is not a univocally positive factor for locating R&D abroad and indicates the critical complementary role of managing internal and external spillovers to capitalize on the benefits from R&D decentralization. It also shows that the intensity of product market competition in the host country is important, especially in determining the outgoing spillover costs.

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Paper provided by C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers in its series CEPR Discussion Papers with number 3151.

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Date of creation: Jan 2002
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Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:3151
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  1. Kogut, Bruce & Chang, Sea Jin, 1991. "Technological Capabilities and Japanese Foreign Direct Investment in the United States," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 73(3), pages 401-13, August.
  2. Adam B. Jaffe & Manuel Trajtenberg & Rebecca Henderson, 1992. "Geographic Localization of Knowledge Spillovers as Evidenced by Patent Citations," NBER Working Papers 3993, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Magnus Blomstrom & Jian-Ye Wang, 1989. "Foreign Investment and Technology Transfer: A Simple Model," NBER Working Papers 2958, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Gersbach, Hans & Schmutzler, Armin, 1999. "External spillovers, internal spillovers and the geography of production and innovation," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 29(6), pages 679-696, November.
  5. Pari Patel & Keith Pavitt, 1991. "Large Firms in the Production of the World’s Technology: An Important Case of “Non-Globalisation”," Journal of International Business Studies, Palgrave Macmillan, vol. 22(1), pages 1-21, March.
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  7. Mansfield, Edwin & Romeo, Anthony, 1980. "Technology Transfer to Overseas Subsidiaries by U.S.-Based Firms," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 95(4), pages 737-50, December.
  8. Cantwell, John, 1995. "The Globalisation of Technology: What Remains of the Product Cycle Model?," Cambridge Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 19(1), pages 155-74, February.
  9. Cohen, Wesley M & Levinthal, Daniel A, 1989. "Innovation and Learning: The Two Faces of R&D," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 99(397), pages 569-96, September.
  10. Kamien, Morton I. & Zang, Israel, 2000. "Meet me halfway: research joint ventures and absorptive capacity," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 18(7), pages 995-1012, October.
  11. Audretsch, David B & Feldman, Maryann P, 1996. "R&D Spillovers and the Geography of Innovation and Production," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(3), pages 630-40, June.
  12. John H Dunning, 1988. "The Eclectic Paradigm of International Production: A Restatement and Some Possible Extensions," Journal of International Business Studies, Palgrave Macmillan, vol. 19(1), pages 1-31, March.
  13. Pierre Mohnen, 1992. "International R&D Spillovers," Cahiers de recherche du Département des sciences économiques, UQAM 9208, Université du Québec à Montréal, Département des sciences économiques.
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