Lancaster University Management School and Programme Manager, Lancaster China Catalyst programme, was interviewed after presenting at a seminar hosted by the Manchester Institute of Innovation Research (MIOIR) on 29 February 2016. Listen to his conversation with Dr. Yanchao Li here.
Stepping aside from the International Product Life Cycle Theory (Vernon, 1966) that considered advanced economies as the only loci of innovation, scholars are now looking at the growing role of emerging economies as potential sources of global innovation. Simone Corsi draws on the concept of reverse innovation (Immelt et al, 2009; Govindarajan & Ramamurti, 2011) in its common market-based definition and expands it by adding an R&D perspective, highlighting the importance of where the innovation was ideated (R) and developed (D) as determinants for a reverse innovation. A new typology of reverse innovation is then described, identifying multiple patterns of innovation where emerging economies play an important role and framing the new concept within a global innovation setting.
Recognizing China as one of the most prominent emerging economies, the seminar at MIOIR looked at how the Chinese market can influence the innovative activities of foreign MNCs and become a source for global innovation. Four case studies of foreign MNCs and R&D activities in China were presented and analyzed. These confirm an evolutionary path of foreign R&D activities in China from an exploitative to an explorative nature, although we move away from a framework where host countries affect MNCs’ subsidiaries innovation activity based on their technological richness and diversity (Almeida & Phene, 2004; Frost, 2001) stepping into a context where Chinese subsidiaries can be considered as interpreters of local market characteristics, whose inputs configure unique innovation sources. The results show how the Chinese competitive context can trigger global innovation if stimuli are properly received at both local and corporate levels.