Knowledge Transfer Processes in Multinational R&D Networks
Departamento de Ciências Sociais Aplicadas FCT/UNL _ Faculdade de Ciências e Tecnologia da Universidade Nova de Lisboa Caparica, Portugal
Manatos, Maria João
--- UNINOVA - Instituto de Desenvolvimento de Novas Tecnologias Caparica, Portugal
One of the crucial aspects of world economy globalization relies on the new forms of creating and spreading new technological knowledge. Actually, the last decades have shown a generalized concern about the study on how multinationals create knowledge and, specially, about how they operate its transference (Sölvell and Birkinshaw, 2002). Knowledge is recognized as a principal source of economic rent and the effective management of organizational knowledge has increasingly been linked to competitive advantage and is considered critical to the success of the business firm (Nielsen, 2002).
In this way, a crucial challenge for multinationals is to combine the unique location-bound resources found in local clusters with the global resources of the firm to generate valuable and rare capabilities (Lundan, 2002). In this sense, they should assure that competencies from the different units are diffused throughout the group (Andersson et al, 2002).
Based on the theoretical discussion around innovation and transfer of knowledge through multinational networks, we will present the final results obtained on the R&D.COM - Local R&D COMpetencies within Global Value Chains (FCT/MCTES) - project. This paper aims at identifying the knowledge and technology transfer processes developed among the worldwide R&D units and the competencies that are locally created to earn power by knowledge within these global value chains.
The empirical component of this project is grounded on a local case study and on one extended case - that involves a local R&D unit (Portugal), a foreign R&D unit (Holland) and the headquarters (Norway) - developed on multinationals from the automobile and electronics industries.
In the analysis of the local case two main questions arose: the importance of knowledge and competencies interchange between local agents and the portuguese unit, and its privileged position in the knowledge diffusion in the network. From the analysis of the extended case, we explored the knowledge creation and dissemination process within the multinational. We can see, on the one hand, that the headquarters are the units where core knowledge is produced and diffused, but, on the other hand, there are some particular subsidiaries where R&D is developed with a growing level of autonomy.