A special issue of International Journal of Technological Learning, Innovation and Development
Following World War 2 and the work of R. Vernon during the 1960s, there has been a profusion of studies on the globalisation of innovative capabilities. While some studies hold a non-globalisation perspective, others claim that the spread of such activities is conditioned by certain situations of host and home countries and product types. However, most of the existing studies examine this issue from the perspective of contemporary advanced industrialised countries.
Despite a few exceptions, there is still a scarcity of studies addressing the issue of globalisation of innovative activities from the standpoint of late-industrialising (or developing) countries. Specifically, a deeper empirical notion of this issue, from the perspective of foreign direct investment (FDI) and foreign trans-national corporations (TNCs) in association with different kinds of indigenous organisations in late-industrialising countries, is badly needed.
As far as the role of FDI and TNCs in late-industrialising countries is concerned, there are some common generalisations in the related literature:
(i) that TNC-subsidiaries are passive users of ready-made technologies and they contribute very little to technological development in their host countries;
(ii) that the acquisition of local firms by FDI, particularly during the early 1990s, has led to an erosion of the innovative capabilities that been accumulated during the state-led industrialisation regime; and
(iii) whenever it occurs, globalisation of innovation is a one-way knowledge flow from industrialised into developing countries.
However, there is some convincing evidence that TNCs have sought to intensify the allocation of their knowledge-intensive activities in different developing countries. Additionally, it seems that FDI no longer search only for low-cost host locations, but places that can offer (or can potentially develop) creative human resources and an active innovation system supporting organisations (e.g universities, vocational training centres, research institutes, laboratories, and consulting firms) to supplement their innovative efforts.
Additionally, it appears that globalisation of innovative activities has moved beyond the one-way knowledge flow from parent-companies into their subsidiaries in developing countries. There are not only reversed innovative knowledge-flows from subsidiaries to their corporation in industrialised countries, but, under certain circumstances, TNC-subsidiaries in developing countries may actively involve in various kinds of local and/or global innovative knowledge-links over time. Such (multiple) links may be built up, for instance, with global and local partners such as sister-subsidiaries in other developing countries, suppliers, users, competitors plus innovation system supporting organisations.
The way such knowledge-links develop over time may have implications for different types of spill-overs in host countries. In addition, over the past few years we have witnessed the emergence of TNCs from developing countries. (However, this specific topic is outside the scope of this Special Issue).
Thus is seems that over the past two decades, the nature of the process of globalisation of innovative activities has dramatically changed, especially if we consider the role of developing countries. There is an urgent need of new empirical analyses and explanations in order to further our understanding of this issue and to generate clear and practical recommendations for companies, investors, development agencies, and governments involved with innovation-related and FDI decision-making processes in the context of late-industrialising economies and regions.
The purpose of this Special Issue is to bring together recent original studies from around the world, centred on the issue of globalisation of innovative capabilities from a late-industrialising perspective. Specifically, the aim is to contribute to disseminating and communicating research findings and conclusions among academicians, corporate managers and government policy makers.
We will welcome papers which address, but are not limited to, the following issues/questions:
- Nature of paths of technological capability accumulation in foreign TNC-subsidiaries in developing countries. How do they differ among companies in the same industrial sector and across sectors over time? How do they differ inside the company? At which rate do firms move from production-based capabilities into different levels of innovative capabilities?
- Development of non-technical capabilities (e.g. marketing, logistics, finance, and managerial) in TNC-subsidiaries in developing countries. How do they support and/or influence innovative activities? To what extent do they interact with non-technical capabilities and to what extent do such interactions inhibit and/or stimulate innovative and techno-economic/market performance?
- Evolution of knowledge sources for technological capability building in TNC-subsidiaries. Nature of underlying intra-firm technological learning processes.
- Nature of inter-organisational knowledge-links established over time between TNC-subsidiaries, not only with their parent-company, but with other subsidiaries in the same group located in other countries and also with suppliers, users, competitors, and local innovation system supporting organisations? To what extent do these various kinds of the knowledge-linkages influence the direction and rate of production and innovative capability building and, in turn, the subsidiary's techno-economic performance over time?
- Evolution of technological strategies in TNC-subsidiaries. How do they differ over time among subsidiaries of the same group and sector and across sectors and/or countries? To what extent is their decision-making process independent from their parent-company? How do their technological and managerial mandates change over time and to what extent they influence companies' techno-economic performance? What are the technological and managerial characteristics TNC-subsidiaries and indigenous companies that have actively and successfully been engaged in global value chains?
- To what extent do innovative activities in TNC-subsidiaries and their various knowledge-building activities (intra- and inter-firm) lead to spill-overs in their host countries? What kind of organisational learning factors do influence such spill-overs?
- Key changes in technological capability-accumulation paths and in the various knowledge-building activities in TNC-subsidiaries after the changes in policy regime (from inward- into outward-looking) during the 1990s in some developing countries.
- Evolution of technological capabilities and knowledge-building activities in indigenous firms that were taken over by foreign TNCs during the 1990s. In which manner - and at which rate - have their innovative technological activities changed since then? What kind of implications have such changes had for techno-economic performance of those companies?
- The role of host-countries' innovation system in attracting, building and/or strengthening TNC-subsidiaries' innovative activities. To what extent do foreign TNC-subsidiaries influence changes in the host-countries innovation system in order to speed up (or not) innovative activities?
- What is the nature and evolution of the host-country's macro-level institutions (e.g macro-economic, political, property rights, tax-incentive systems, and other 'local rules of the game') and to what extent do they attract innovative FDI and/or stimulate and/or constrain technological-related decision-making process and innovative activities in the TNC-subsidiary.We will also welcome papers that, although may not fit into these specific issues/questions, but are in line with the spirit of this Special Issue.
Extended abstract submission (max. 500 words) due: 31 August 2007
Full paper submission due: 31 October 2007