The Changing Geography of R&D in Multinational Firms

In the last 30 years firms have increasingly located innovation and R&D activities outside their home country. This trend has become known as international knowledge sourcing or the internationalisation of R&D and innovation activities (Dunning and Lundan, 2009; Papanastassiou et al., 2020). Regarded as a marginal phenomenon by the literature in the 1970s and 1980s, it emerged into one of the decisive factors for the long-term evolution of business R&D in many countries, as well as for the competitiveness of multinational enterprises. The largest 2,500 corporate R&D performers today account for about 90% of global business R&D expenditure. Only a small minority of them are not multinational firms (Hernández et al., 2019).

The internationalisation of R&D has inspired a considerable body of research in recent years. Many of these contributions were related to geography. An important topic within this literature are location decisions for R&D and innovation activities (Cantwell and Iammarino, 2000; Thursby and Thursby, 2006; De Backer and Hatem, 2010; Ascani et al., 2016). Scholars also investigate cross-country knowledge flows and the co-ordination of globally dispersed R&D within the multinational firm (Gupta and Govindarajanan, 2000; Criscuolo and Narula, 2007; Rabbiosi, 2011; Galli Geleilate et al., 2020). Research also addressed the impacts of R&D internationalisation on home and host countries or regions, including clusters (UNCTAD, 2005; D’Agostino et al., 2013; de Rassenfosse and Thomson, 2019). Recently, a special focus was added on knowledge sourcing by multinational firms from emerging economies (Narula, 2012; Giuliani et al., 2014; Crescenzi et al., 2016; Ciabuschi et al., 2017).

The special session wants to take up these topics and develop them further. Contributions from economic geography, but also from an international business, innovation economics, management, or from an international economics perspective are welcome. Submissions may cover, but are not limited to, the following topics: