Internationalisation Theory and Technological Accumulation - An Investigation of Multinational Affiliates in East Germany

This dissertation applies the theory of technology accumulation to explain the internationalisation of foreign and West German multinational enterprises (MNEs) into East Germany. This theory shifts the focus from technology transfer to the international diffusion of innovation within the MNE. It rejects the position that all MNEs offer the same technological opportunities to host economies. Yet, most of the existing empirical research on postcommunist transition economies including East Germany applies the traditional technology transfer perspective. Therefore, this dissertation provides a complementary and novel approach. We assume a dynamic interaction between existing location specific technological capabilities within the host country, MNEs’ location choice, their internationalisation of research and development (R&D) and innovation, and the potential for technological spillover effects from MNEs to the host economy. The dissertation exploits information from the IWH FDI micro database on the full population of MNEs that entered East German manufacturing until 2005 and corresponding survey data. Microeconometric estimation results generate a number of novel findings: We can show that existing location specific technological capabilities affect MNEs’ general location choice within East Germany. They are not powerful enough to attract MNEs’ technological activities. Instead, the location of MNEs’ innovation requires the joint presence of technological and industry specialisation within regions, whereas foreign R&D benefits from technological specialisation in combination with a diversified industry structure. Moreover, the location of technological activity differs depending upon the underlying motive for internationalisation. Our findings suggest that the potential for technological externalities from affiliates to local firms is subject to centrally and locally driven technological heterogeneity of MNEs. Existing location specific technological capabilities do not affect the spillover potential. This hints a limited dynamic interaction of ownership and locational advantages in firms’ internationalisation. We derive implications for the technology accumulation theory as well as for various fields of science and technology policy.

11. November 2010

Authors Björn Jindra

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