PROGRESS IN GEOGRAPHY ›› 2019, Vol. 38 ›› Issue (10): 1523-1534.doi: 10.18306/dlkxjz.2019.10.008

• Special Issue | Empirical Study • Previous Articles     Next Articles

R&D internationalization of Chinese enterprises and innovation performance:Based on the survey data of enterprises at the China International Industry Fair 2016-2018

SI Yuefang1,2,LIU Wanxin2,*(),ZHU Yiwen1,3,NIE Yuhan2   

  1. 1. The Center for Modern Chinese City Studies, East China Normal University, Shanghai 200062, China
    2. School of Urban & Regional Science, East China Normal University, Shanghai 200062, China;
    3. Institute of Urban Development, East China Normal University, Shanghai 200062, China
  • Received:2019-06-10 Revised:2019-08-21 Online:2019-10-28 Published:2019-11-01
  • Contact: LIU Wanxin
  • Supported by:
    National Natural Science Foundation of China(No. 41871110);Ministry of Education Humanities and Social Sciences Research Project(No. 19YJC790138);Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities


With the deepening of the implementation of the open-door policy, increasing number of Chinese enterprises realizes that to remain technologically competitive, it is not enough to only rely on domestic R&D investment. They need to learn and to absorb advanced technological experiences by R&D internationalization via international strategic alliances, transnational mergers and acquisitions (M&A), and establishing offshoring R&D laboratories. However, it is debatable whether R&D internationalization can indeed promote firms' innovation performance. Some scholars argue that R&D internationalization can expand the range of available innovation resources, which bring positive influences on enterprise innovation performance; while others state that R&D internationalization also increases the difficulty and complexity of organization management greatly. The innovative effect of R&D internationalization should be studied further. In this article, we analyzed the impacts of international strategic alliances, transnational M&A, and offshoring R&D laboratories on firms' innovation performance. Meanwhile, we tested the moderating roles of social embeddedness and absorptive capacity in the relationship between R&D internationalization and innovation performance. We conducted questionnaire surveys of 676 Chinese enterprises at the China International Industry Fair from 2016 to 2018, and applied multi-classification ordered logistic regression models to explore the relationship. The results suggest that first, Chinese enterprises tend to carry out offshoring R&D in developed countries and regions with high-density R&D capability, pooling of global innovation resources, and less language and communication barriers. Second, R&D internationalization has positive effect on innovation performance, but there are significant differences across different types of R&D internationalization. A positive correlation exists between transnational M&A and innovation; establishing overseas R&D institutions has an important impact on the increase of innovation performance. The empirical study also reveals that diversification of offshoring R&D activities has a significant impact on the creation of patents and new products. Via diversified overseas R&D activities, Chinese enterprises broaden their access to knowledge spillovers in host countries and accelerate access to useful and innovative information. In addition, the influence of R&D internationalization on innovation activities is regulated by social embeddedness and absorptive capacity.

Key words: R&D internationalization, innovation performance, Chinese enterprises, China International Industry Fair