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Formal and Strategic Appropriability Strategies of Multinational Firms: A Cross Country Comparison

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  • Faria, Pedro
  • Sofka, Wolfgang

Abstract

International knowledge spillovers, especially through multinational companies (MNCs), have recently been a major topic of discussion among academics and practitioners. Most research in this field focuses on knowledge sharing activities of MNC subsidiaries. Relatively little is known about their capabilities for protecting valuable knowledge from spilling over to host country competitors. We extend this stream of research by investigating MNC appropriability strategies that go beyond formal methods (patents, copyrights, trademarks) to include strategic ones (secrecy, lead time, complex design). We conceptualize the breadth and depth of a firm?s knowledge protection strategies and relate them to the particular situation of MNC subsidiaries. Moreover, we argue that their approaches differ with regard to host country challenges and opportunities. We address these issues empirically, based on a harmonized survey of innovation activities of more than 1,800 firms located in Portugal and Germany. We find that MNCs prefer broader sets of appropriability strategies in host countries with fewer opportunities for knowledge sourcing. However, munificent host country environments require targeted sets of appropriability strategies instead. We deduce that these results are due to a need for reciprocity to benefit fully from promising host country knowledge flows.

Suggested Citation

  • Faria, Pedro & Sofka, Wolfgang, 2008. "Formal and Strategic Appropriability Strategies of Multinational Firms: A Cross Country Comparison," ZEW Discussion Papers 08-030, ZEW - Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung / Center for European Economic Research.
  • Handle: RePEc:zbw:zewdip:7302
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    Keywords

    Appropriability; Multinational Companies; Patenting;

    JEL classification:

    • D83 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Search; Learning; Information and Knowledge; Communication; Belief; Unawareness
    • O32 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Management of Technological Innovation and R&D
    • O31 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Innovation and Invention: Processes and Incentives
    • F23 - International Economics - - International Factor Movements and International Business - - - Multinational Firms; International Business

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