Reverse Technology Transfer: A Patent Citation Analysis of the European Chemical and Pharmaceutical Sectors
One consequence of the internationalisation of R&D, particularly in high-tech sectors such as chemicals and pharmaceuticals, may be the transfer of foreign technology from the multinational to other firms in its home country. This phenomenon, which may be termed inter-firm reverse technology transfer, has not yet been directly analysed by either the international management literature or the literature on foreign direct investment. But its implications for policy – particularly in Europe – may be significant. Drawing on the evolutionary theory of the multinational, and on the concept of embeddedness, this paper is a first attempt at addressing this issue. We test the hypothesis of inter-firm reverse technology transfer by performing a patent citation analysis on a database of USPTO patents applied for by 24 chemical and pharmaceutical companies over the period 1980-99. Our findings suggest that multinationals act as a channel for the transmission of knowledge developed abroad to other home country firms. These results point to an alternative understanding of foreign direct R&D investment and its implications for both the home country’s technological activity, and its competitive performance in general
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