<< programme

Internationalization of the Firm and Knowledge Creation

A Triple Helix 5 Track proposed by

John Cantwell, Professor of International Business, Rutgers University
email: cantwell@rbsmail.rutgers.edu

Lucia Piscitello, Dipartimento di Ingegneria Gestionale, Politecnico di Milano
email: piscitel@polimi.it

Historically, the main motive of the internationalization of the firm was the search for new markets and natural resources abroad. Thus, multinational corporations (MNCs) established competence-exploiting subsidiaries abroad that drew heavily upon the prior competence and knowledge base of their parent company to serve local markets or extract natural resources. More recently, the internationalization of the firm has been increasingly motivated as well by the drive to form integrated international networks for knowledge creation. Within MNCs, some subsidiaries have evolved to take on a competence-creating role accordingly.

A key feature that has supported internationally dispersed innovation in the MNC is the localized external networks that are utilised by competence-creating subsidiaries to tap into agglomerations of specialized expertise in their own immediate regional vicinity. These include linkages with the science base, government-funded organisations and other institutions as well as with local companies. Hence, competence-creating subsidiaries tend to be sited in centres of excellence.

The increasing scope for technological interchanges between complementary lines of knowledge creation has led also to a growing number of technology-based international strategic alliances between MNCs.

Some of the key issues to be addressed in this track are:

  • The characteristics of localized knowledge spillovers between foreign-owned companies and other actors in sub-national regions.
  • The geography of knowledge sourcing in the innovation of foreign-owned subsidiaries.
  • Local capability formation and knowledge creation amongst indigenous firms with links to foreign-owned subsidiaries (eg. as suppliers or as joint venture partners), or in firms with other international business linkages through sub-contracting or licensing arrangements with MNCs.
  • The role of the fragmentation of production (the value chain) in the international dispersion of knowledge-creating functions, and thus in catch-up processes in developing countries and regions.

Triple Helix Conference I Amsterdam, 1996 II New York, 1998 III Rio de Janeiro, 2000 IV Copenhagen, 2002 V Turin, 2005 VI Singapore, 2007 VII Glasgow, 2009 VIII Madrid, 2010 IX Stanford, 2011 X Indonesia, 2012 XI London, 2013
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