Local R&D Strategies and Multi-Location Firms: The Role of Internal Linkages

33 Pages Posted: 10 Feb 2010

See all articles by Juan Alcacer

Juan Alcacer

Harvard University - Strategy Unit

Minyuan Zhao

University of Pennsylvania

Date Written: February 9, 2010


This study looks at the role of firms' internal linkages in highly competitive technology clusters, where much of the world’s R&D takes place. The leading players in these clusters are multi-location firms that organize and integrate knowledge across sites worldwide. Strong internal links across locations allow these firms to leverage knowledge for competitive advantage without risking critical knowledge outflow to competitors. We examine whether multi-location firms increase internal ties when they face appropriability risks from direct competitors. Our empirical analysis of the global semiconductor industry shows that when leading firms co-locate with direct market competitors, innovations tend to be quickly internalized, and are more likely to involve collaboration across locations, particularly with inventors from the firm’s primary R & D site. Our results suggest that R&D dynamics in clusters are heavily influenced by multi-location firms with innovative links across locations, and that future research on technology innovation in clusters should account for these links.

Keywords: technology clusters, knowledge spillover, internalization, appropriability

Suggested Citation

Alcacer, Juan and Zhao, Minyuan, Local R&D Strategies and Multi-Location Firms: The Role of Internal Linkages (February 9, 2010). Harvard Business School Strategy Unit Working Paper No. 10-064, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1550099 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1550099

Juan Alcacer (Contact Author)

Harvard University - Strategy Unit ( email )

Harvard Business School
Soldiers Field Road
Boston, MA 02163
United States
617 495-6338 (Phone)
617 495-0355 (Fax)

Minyuan Zhao

University of Pennsylvania ( email )

The Wharton School
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6370
United States

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