Technological diversity, scientific excellence and the location of inventive activities abroad: the case of nanotechnology

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Fernández-Ribas, Andrea
Shapira, Philip
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Our contribution to the expanding literature on the globalization of research and innovation is to investigate the extent to which sector-specific developments in an emerging technology (such as increasing interdisciplinarity and complexity) affect inventive activities developed abroad. We look at how technological diversity and scientific excellence of host countries in the field of nanotechnology affect the development of inventive activities by US multinational companies (MNCs). We identify the most active US-based MNCs in nanotechnology-related patenting and examine location decisions of these companies and their international subsidiaries. Econometric results confirm our hypothesis that the technological breadth of host countries positively influences the expected number of inventions developed abroad by US MNCs. Science capabilities of countries also have a positive impact on the decision to invent abroad, while the influence of market specific factors is less clear. We interpret these results as suggesting that host country science capabilities are important to attract innovative activities by MNCs, but as the interdisciplinary and convergent nature of nanotechnology evolves, access to a broadly diversified knowledge base becomes important in increasing the relative attractiveness of host locations.
Sponsorship of this research was provided by the Center for Nanotechnology in Society (CNS-ASU funded by the National Science Foundation, Award No. 0531194)
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