9th Conference European Sociological Association

RN09 Economic Sociology

2009-09-05 11:00:00 2009-09-05 12:30:00 Saturday, 5 September 11:00 - 12:30 Innovation and Entrepreneurship Building AA, AA.228

Delocalized R&D units within multinationals: an insight on trajectories of innovation

In the last few decades important transformations have been emerging in the society and in the economy, leading to the development of a new economic and social structure.
Actually, the new concept of knowledge-based economy comes from the acknowledgement of the importance of knowledge for economic growth (Soete, 2000). This way, knowledge based economies are mainly economies in which the knowledge management regarding the innovation process, , becomes central in the competition between economic actors (Murteira, 2004).
The new economy is also a global economy, where one of the central actors - the multinational companies (MNC) - develops their strategy and organizes their activity globally.
The increasing number of MNC's activity, associated with the process of globalization, has led to a deepening of the interdependence among economic actors settled in different locations. Furthermore, these developments have changed the way companies organize their innovative functions both spatially and organizationally (Cantwell and Narula, 2001).
As a matter of fact, a potential source of competitive advantage for MNC is in the capacity of delocalized subsidiaries to generate innovative processes or products (Dunning, 2000; Cantwell and Mudambi, 2005).
Based on this theoretical approach, this paper aims at mapping the role of delocalised R&D units within the companies's global strategies and the relations established locally in order to earn power within the global value chains.
The methodology is grounded on a local case study and on one extended case - that involves a local R&D unit (Portugal), a foreigner R&D unit (Holland) and the headquaters (Norway) - developed on multinationals from the automobile and electronics industries.
The results obtained from the developed research (R&D.COM - Local R&D COMpetencies within Global Value Chains - FCT/MCTES project) point out, on the one hand, that the local case study is a portuguese subsidiary with a central position in the network, which is, strongly, a consequence of the competences developed locally; on the other hand, the extended case is an example of a MNC where R&D is developed mainly in the headquarters but is also delocalised to some subsidiaries, with a certain level of autonomy and independence.