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The Role of Multinational Corporations and National States in the Globalization of Innovatory Capacity: The European Perspective

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The recent ability of multinational corporations (MNCs) to develop integrated technological networks, increasingly motivated within Europe by the further progress of economic integration, is argued to affect and be affected by national technological competitiveness. This paper examines the precise geographical dispersion of technological activity in Europe by the largest MNCs, and the potential impact of those MNCs on the level and structure of the technological capacity of European home and host countries, using data on patents granted to the world largest firms in the US. Since the late 1980s, the majority of the technological activity conducted in foreign-owned research facilities located in Europe, has taken place in affiliates of European-owned companies. This paper examines whether the much higher degree of internationalization of corporate technology in European MNCs than in their US or Japanese counterparts is attributable to cross-border activity within Europe, or extends to European-owned research facilities in the US and Japan. While intra-European activity matters more for Dutch, Belgian and Swedish MNCs (and in the electrical equipment and computing industries), whose strategies are substantially based on corporate European integration, investments in the US are of greater significance for French and Swiss companies, and of the greatest importance for German and British firms (and in the chemical and pharmaceutical industries), representing a more widely ‘globalized’ technological strategy.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 2000-06-01

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