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New theoretical perspectives for international innovation: Research gaps and the need for intrafirm information

abstract This is an SNF project that will run from 2007 to 2009.

MNCs conduct an ever-increasing share of their innovation activities in countries other than their home country (UNCTAD, 2005). Despite the increasing relevance of this phenomenon, serious re-search gaps remain in our understanding of firms' international innovation processes.
The dominant theoretical perspective on how firms should conduct international innovation, Bartlett and Ghoshal's 'Transnational' paradigm, is increasingly at odds with empirical findings on interna-tional innovation. Paradoxically, MNCs do not seem to use their network of international R&D sub-sidiaries for international innovation projects, rather, most innovations still come exclusively from headquarters.
Although prominent scholars have called for research on this topic and have noted the great potentials this paradox bears for future theory development in the field of international business theory and tech-nology management (Brock and Birkinshaw, 2004; Argyres and Silverman, 2004; Rugman, 2005; Verbeke, 2005), little has been done to address these calls. This can basically be attributed to the fact that the dominant US research tradition in the field has preferred to work with aggregate proxy meas-ures, so that we have no information whatsoever that would be based on intrafirm data on international R&D, and consequently, we do not know how firms actually conduct international innovation (Ar-gyres and Silverman, 2004).
We wish to advance our understanding beyond this paradigm by systematic theory development that can be published in high-ranking international journals. It is also our express goal to empirically con-tribute to this paradigm shift by going beyond incomplete proxies and database information that is popular with the current US-dominated research culture, and to move toward more adequate explana-tory models. Such data, as well as new theoretical insights on our understanding of international inno-vation, are called for by many prominent scholars, yet still unavailable, our research could make a strong impact in international journals.

Based on qualitative and quantitative research conducted in 2006 which was sponsored by the Basic Research Fund of the University of St. Gallen, we have elaborated this proposal as a suggestion of how these theoretical and empirical contribution can be achieved. It will proceed as follows.
First, we set out the research gaps that remain in our understanding of firms' international innovation processes. We also present empirical evidence that shows that the dominant theoretical perspective on international innovation, the 'Transnational' paradigm, is at odds with the processes inside many mul-tinational firms.
Second, we present both empirical findings from our own research as well as conceptual developments on the basis of the latest findings in the literature that can serve as a first preliminary basis for the the-ory development we intend to do. This basis is developed by discussing six areas that each address a significant problem of the 'Transnational' paradigm and point to promising directions for theory devel-opment.
Finally, the research plan for this proposed project sets out how we want to structure our research by developing a conceptual model and hypotheses from our findings, and how we plan to collect data by two surveys to test these hypotheses. The results and findings can then serve to make a contribution towards closing the research gaps in our understanding of firm's international innovation activities.
   
keywords International management, R&D, innovation, intrafirm perspective, statistical modelling
   
partner
type fundamental research project
status completed
start of project 2007
end of project 2009
additional informations marcus.keupp@unisg.ch
topics International innovation management
methods Quantitative Fragebogenerhebung; Interviews
contact Marcus Matthias Keupp