From local modification to global innovation: How research units in emerging economies innovate for the world

S Morris (First Author), J Oldroyd (Participant Author), RT Allen (Participant Author), DHM Chng (Participant Author), J Han (Participant Author)

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal

1 Citation (Web of Science)
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More and more companies are turning to emerging markets as sources of global innovation to help transform business and society. However, building innovation capabilities in emerging markets is still elusive for most companies. To understand how some companies are successfully building these capabilities, we examined workers within R&D units in China across six foreign multinational corporations. In contrast with prior literature that emphasizes a structural view of who the workers interacted with to innovate, our inductive analysis highlights a behavioral view of how R&D unit personnel interact during the problem and solution search process. We identified two key behaviors associated with the problem and solution search: (1) observing customers in their everyday context, and (2) uncovering general knowledge principles from internal experts. Respectively, these behaviors helped R&D workers to question assumptions about existing products as they relate to customers and to apply useful principles from expert knowledge rather than copying solution templates. Our findings offer an alternative path to building global innovation capabilities in markets where structural constraints exist for the company.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)418-440
Number of pages23
JournalJournal of International Business Studies
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 30 Jan 2023

Corresponding author email


  • Capabilities and capability development
  • Emerging markets
  • Global and local knowledge
  • Innovation and R&D
  • Knowledge-based view

Indexed by

  • ABDC-A*
  • FT
  • SSCI


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