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Characteristics of Foreign R&D Strategies of Swiss Firms. Implications for Policy

  • Heinz Hollenstein

    (WIFO)

The aim of the paper is, firstly, to identify a number of strategies Swiss firms pursue by performing foreign R&D, expecting that firms, in many instances, are driven by a combination of several motives ("mixed strategies"). Secondly, we ask whether foreign and domestic R&D are substitutes or complements. Thirdly, we draw some policy conclusions based on results for direct and indirect home-country effects of foreign R&D. By applying cluster analysis, we identified four specific patterns of motives of foreign R&D. In a second step, we investigated whether these clusters effectively may be interpreted as specific types of R&D strategies. To this end, the clusters were characterised in terms of a large number of variables, which, according to the OLI paradigm of FDI, determine foreign R&D. We found that the patterns of the four clusters systematically differ with respect to these theory-related variables. Some clusters represent, in terms of motives, broad-based mixed strategies, whereas others are strongly focused. It turns out that foreign R&D strategies that primarily aim at exploiting capabilities of the domestic headquarters dominate, whereas cost-reducing strategies are of very minor importance. In case of the other two strategies knowledge sourcing is a constituent element, in the first one, knowledge sourcing is at the core, in the second case it is an important element in the frame of a broad-based strategy. The relative importance of the four strategies implies that, on balance, foreign and domestic R&D are complements. Notwithstanding this positive result, it is sensible to take policy actions supporting the economy to capitalise even more on outward FDI in R&D. Policy basically should aim at securing the attractiveness of Switzerland as a location for R&D-intensive headquarters of firms performing foreign R&D, and at enhancing knowledge spill-overs from headquarter companies to other domestic firms. The five categories of measures we recommend are part of a framework-oriented policy design rather than of a more interventionist concept.

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Paper provided by WIFO in its series WIFO Working Papers with number 315.

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Length: 26 pages
Date of creation: 31 Mar 2008
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:wfo:wpaper:y:2008:i:315
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  1. 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.
  2. John Cantwell & Rajneesh Narula, 2001. "The Eclectic Paradigm in the Global Economy," International Journal of the Economics of Business, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 8(2), pages 155-172.
  3. Spyros Arvanitis & Martin Woerter, 2006. "Firms’ Strategies for Knowledge and Technology Transfer with Public Research Organisations and Their Impact on Firms’ Performance : An Empirical Analysis Based on Firm-level Data," KOF Working papers 06-148, KOF Swiss Economic Institute, ETH Zurich.
  4. Walter Kuemmerle, 1999. "The Drivers of Foreign Direct Investment into Research and Development: An Empirical Investigation," Journal of International Business Studies, Palgrave Macmillan, vol. 30(1), pages 1-24, March.
  5. Patel, Pari & Vega, Modesto, 1999. "Patterns of internationalisation of corporate technology: location vs. home country advantages1," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 28(2-3), pages 145-155, March.
  6. Hakanson, Lars & Nobel, Robert, 1993. "Foreign research and development in Swedish multinationals," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 22(5-6), pages 373-396, November.
  7. Dunning, John H., 1994. "Multinational enterprises and the globalization of innovatory capacity," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 23(1), pages 67-88, January.
  8. John Cantwell & Lucia Piscitello, 2005. "Recent Location of Foreign-owned Research and Development Activities by Large Multinational Corporations in the European Regions: The Role of Spillovers and Externalities," Regional Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 39(1), pages 1-16.
  9. Heinz Hollenstein, 2005. "Determinants of International Activities: Are SMEs Different?," Small Business Economics, Springer, vol. 24(5), pages 431-450, 06.
  10. Dunning, John H., 2000. "The eclectic paradigm as an envelope for economic and business theories of MNE activity," International Business Review, Elsevier, vol. 9(2), pages 163-190, April.
  11. Spyros Arvanitis & Heinz Hollenstein, 2001. "Technologiestandort Schweiz im Zuge der Globalisierung: Eine explorative Analyse der F&E-Aktivitäten schweizerischer Industrieunternehmen im Ausland," Swiss Journal of Economics and Statistics (SJES), Swiss Society of Economics and Statistics (SSES), vol. 137(II), pages 129-148, June.
  12. Rajneesh Narula & Antonello Zanfei, 2003. "Globalisation of Innovation The Role of Multinational Enterprises," DRUID Working Papers 03-15, DRUID, Copenhagen Business School, Department of Industrial Economics and Strategy/Aalborg University, Department of Business Studies.
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