The Globalization of Innovation in Nanotechnology: Some Empirical Evidence for U.S., Japanese and European Firms

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Fernández-Ribas, Andrea
Shapira, Philip
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Globalization of science and technology has long been a topic of interest to academics and policy makers. Despite extensive research, we know little about how and what firms globalize. Some recent studies suggest that the geographic distribution of inventive activities remain highly concentrated in industrialized countries. Arora and Yoon (2007) find that inventive activity in software remains concentrated in locations within the United States and among U.S. firms. MacHer, Mowery and Di Minin (2007) find similar results for the semiconductor industry. In a previous study, Fernandez-Ribas and Shapira (2009) show that the most technologically active U.S. corporations in nanotechnology develop an increasing number of inventions abroad. However, our results also indicate that the surge of new inventive locations outside the U.S. has not substituted the inventive activities developed at home. In fact, we find that nanotechnology inventions developed at home more than doubles the number of inventions developed abroad. By contrast, other studies suggest that R&D and innovation are moving to emerging markets. For example, Wadhwa et al. (2008) find that western pharmaceutical companies are shifting substantial preclinical and clinical-trial work to India and China. Several field studies show that indeed the globalization of knowledge, technology and capital is rapidly changing the way companies compete in the market. Increasingly companies appear to develop competitive advantages through intellectual property (Rivette and Kline 2000), open innovation approaches (Chesbrough 2003), global exploitation of technology (Archibugi and Iammarino 2002), and complex global value-chain relationships. These parallel processes suggests that globalization of innovation takes different forms, ranging from international research cooperation, international exploitation of technologies or global markets of technology, and has encouraged the emergence of new business relations. In this paper, we seek to contribute to this area by better understanding strategies of innovation by large businesses in new domains of technology characterized by rapid globalization. We focus on the emerging field of nanotechnology and study innovation strategies of the most active U.S., European and Japanese companies. We expand our previous work about the geographic distribution of inventive activities of U.S. firms (Fernandez-Ribas and Shapira, 2009), and investigate similarities and differences across companies. In addition, we investigate other characteristics of the inventive and innovation processes of nanotechnologies, including university-industry linkages, and the international exploitation of technologies. Our database is the nanotechnology publication and patent database developed by the Program in Research and Innovation Systems Assessment (CNS-ASU Center for Nanotechnology in Society) at Georgia Tech, complemented with WIPO PCT national phase reports and companies' profiles. Overall our sample consists of 60+ large multinational corporations and their subsidiaries. References Archibugi, D. and Iammarino, S. (2002) The globalization of technological innovation: definition and evidence, Review of International Political Economy. Arora, Ashish, Chris Forman, and Jiwoong Yoon (2007) Globalization of Software Innovation, Sloan Industry Studies Working Papers, 2007 Number WP-2007-2. Fernandez-Ribas, Andrea and Shapira, Philip (2009) Technological diversity, scientific excellence and the location of inventive activities abroad: the case of nanotechnology, The Journal of Technology Transfer, vol. 34/3, pp. 286-303. Jeffrey T. MacHer, David C. Mowery, Alberto Di Minin (2007) "Non-Globalization" of Innovation in the Semiconductor Industry, California Management Review, Vol. 50 (1) Chesbrough, H. W. (2003) Open Innovation: The New Imperative for Creating and Profiting from Technology. Boston, Massachusetts: Harvard Business School Press. Rivette, K.G and Kline, D. (2000) Discovering new value in Intellectual Property, Harvard Business Review January-February 2000: 54-66. Wadhwa, Vivek, Rissing, Ben, Gereffi, Gary, Trumpbour , John and Engardio, Pete (2008) The Globalization of Innovation: Pharmaceuticals: Can India and China Cure the Global Pharmaceutical Market.
This research has been sponsored by the Center for Nanotechnology in Society, at Arizona State University (National Science Foundation Award 0531194).
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