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Reverse knowledge transfer and its implications for European policy


  • Narula, Rajneesh

    () (John H Dunning Centre for International Business, Henley Business School, University of Reading)

  • Michel, Julie

    () (Center for Competitiveness, Faculty of Economics and Social Sciences, University of Fribourg)


There is a growing international dispersion of R&D activities by MNEs for the purposes of maintaining and augmenting their knowledge assets. Firms need to tap into alternative knowledge sources , as home countries are rarely able to meet all their technological needs. However, accessing to foreign knowledge implies integration with the host country innovation system that requires considerable time and resources. Although asset-augmenting activities are seen as primarily benefitting the MNE, we argue that home country innovation systems can also benefit from reverse knowledge transfer. Policy makers need to promote these linkages and flows, rather than seeing R&D internationalisation as a threat to the home economy. New knowledge developed abroad by firms can and should be encouraged to be transferred to the rest of the firm and to the local environment of the home country.

Suggested Citation

  • Narula, Rajneesh & Michel, Julie, 2009. "Reverse knowledge transfer and its implications for European policy," MERIT Working Papers 035, United Nations University - Maastricht Economic and Social Research Institute on Innovation and Technology (MERIT).
  • Handle: RePEc:unm:unumer:2009035

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Castellani, Davide & Pieri, Fabio, 2013. "R&D offshoring and the productivity growth of European regions," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 42(9), pages 1581-1594.
    2. Bernhard Dachs & Bernd Ebersberger & Steffen Kinkel & Oliver Som, 2015. "The effects of production offshoring on R&D and innovation in the home country," Economia e Politica Industriale: Journal of Industrial and Business Economics, Springer;Associazione Amici di Economia e Politica Industriale, vol. 42(1), pages 9-31, March.
    3. Emanuela Todeva & Ruslan Rakhmatullin, 2016. "Industry Global Value Chains, Connectivity and Regional Smart Specialisation in Europe. An Overview of Theoretical Approaches and Mapping Methodologies," JRC Working Papers JRC102801, Joint Research Centre (Seville site).
    4. Dachs, Bernhard, 2017. "Internationalisation of R&D: A Review of Drivers, Impacts, and new Lines of Research," MPRA Paper 83367, University Library of Munich, Germany.

    More about this item


    reverse knowledge transfer; R&D; innovation policy; EU;

    JEL classification:

    • F23 - International Economics - - International Factor Movements and International Business - - - Multinational Firms; International Business
    • O32 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Management of Technological Innovation and R&D
    • L22 - Industrial Organization - - Firm Objectives, Organization, and Behavior - - - Firm Organization and Market Structure

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