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Quo vadis? The entry into new technologies in advanced foreign subsidiaries of the multinational enterprise

Katarina Blomkvist, Philip Kappen and Ivo Zander
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Katarina Blomkvist: Uppsala University, Uppsala, Sweden
Philip Kappen: Uppsala University, Uppsala, Sweden
Ivo Zander: Uppsala University, Uppsala, Sweden

Journal of International Business Studies, 2010, vol. 41, issue 9, 1525-1549

Abstract: The international business literature has identified the overall emergence of technologically advanced foreign subsidiaries of the multinational enterprise (MNE), but little is known about the extent to which individual subsidiaries are able to sustain their contribution to the technological and strategic renewal of the multinational group. This paper takes on this neglected question by empirically investigating longitudinal patterns in advanced foreign subsidiaries’ entry into technologies that are new to the entire multinational group. Repeated events analysis that draws upon the complete US patenting by 211 greenfield subsidiaries of 21 Swedish multinationals over the period 1893–2008 reveals accelerated entry into new technologies, but at moderate hazard rates. The results lend support for established theorizing about the evolution of technological capabilities in greenfield subsidiaries, but question extreme views on their growing strategic importance for the MNE. It appears instead that significant additions to the technological and strategic renewal of the multinational group should be discussed in the context of a select number of “superstar” subsidiaries, not necessarily what are believed to be general developments across all subsidiaries of the MNE.

Date: 2010
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