Local Innovativeness and Knowledge Spillovers of Indigenous Firms on Foreign Firms: Evidence from China's ICT Industry
Literature on transboundary knowledge flows has primarily focused on foreign direct investment (FDI) spillover effects in emerging economies during the last decades. Little has been known, however, about whether or not and how foreign firms learn from local firms to enhance their innovation performance. The existing literature on clusters lays much emphasis on the variety of knowledge sources in the process of innovation, but it largely ignores the social and institutional barriers to transboundary knowledge flows. This article argues that for foreign firms operating in emerging economies, the issues about legitimacy and liability of foreignness might inhibit “outsiders” from effective knowledge sourcing; therefore, the social and institutional structure in a region plays a no less significant role than knowledge per se. Based on a large-scale firm-level database from China's information and communications technology (ICT) industry, this article reveals that local innovativeness of indigenous firms significantly stimulates and enhances innovation of foreign firms. It is interesting to find that whereas related variety of a region fails to exert positive influences, ownership diversity and a low extent of market concentration that reflect the openness of a local innovation system significantly affect innovation performance of foreign firms. It calls for more studies on local institutional and social construction of interfirm knowledge flows.
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