Drivers of Local Firms’ Focus on Internal R&D in Emerging Economies and Their International Performance
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Grounded on the resource-based view of the firm, the study of this thesis investigates the effect of four internal and external factors – engineer intensity, location, affiliation with the government, government funding – on Chinese firms’ decision to either invest in internal R&D activities or external R&D and the effect of this decision on the firms’ international market success. In addition, the moderating role of the presence of foreign firms in China is examined. To understand these relationships, the thesis’ theorization focuses on the issue of how firms can combine optimally the two options – “internal R&D” and “external R&D”. In this regard I juxtapose internal R&D and external R&D and compare their advantages and disadvantages. To test my model, I apply panel data from the Annual Industrial Survey Database provided by the Chinese National Bureau of Statistics. My results show that three of the four investigated factors affect Chinese firms’ resource allocation decisions; and effective resource allocation decisions lead effectively to international market success, strengthened by the presence of foreign firms in China. Moreover the findings bear several theoretical and managerial contributions. First I propose the last dimension of the “VRIO framework” – “organization” – as an endogenous component of the VRIO framework, as my study investigated how firms can effectively combine resources to generate a competitive advantage in terms of international market success. Previous academic literature so far focused on examining whether internal and external R&D are complements or substitutes. My study fills a gap in the literature by investigating the determinants of the efficient combination of the two strategies and the outcome of the combination. One of the managerial implications is that Chinese firms can learn from foreign companies that are present in China.