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Title: Global innovation leadership of German technology corporations : towards a practical guide for the strategic development of worldwide innovation competence
Author: Bergfeld, M. M. H.
ISNI:       0000 0004 2682 7196
Awarding Body: The University of Manchester
Current Institution: University of Manchester
Date of Award: 2008
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This thesis is about the project-specific application of intra-company innovation networks to enable leadership of German technology corporations in the global race for innovation. It analyses the influence of market- and technology-related complexity on knowledge and technology transfers between German headquarters and foreign subsidiaries. So far, neither the public nor the academic domain have applied this perspective when discussing R&D internationalisation and the role of foreign subsidiaries for innovation competence. However, both complexity dimensions provide important insights regarding the potentials and limitations of R&D internationalisation by German technology corporations. Firstly, a conceptual framework of dynamic intra-company innovation networks is developed: From an organisational point of view, it combines existing concepts of R&D internationalisation, exploration and exploitation of knowledge and technology, and corporate innovation competence. From a strategic point of view, it introduces the dynamics of innovation along technology lifecycles (i. e. from system to product to process and service-related innovation) as explanation for market- and technology-related complexity. Both complexity dimensions are seen as potential contingency factors for the structure of intra-company innovation networks. Secondly, the conceptual model is applied to ten case studies in three German corporations from the automotive, semiconductor and electronics industries. Each case study represents a different strategic setting - i. e. technology lifecycle position and complexity profile. This perspective is matched with a description of the respective network approaches. Thus, the dynamic distribution of roles, responsibilities and innovation competence between the German headquarters and peripheral entities for various innovation project settings is explained. 50 additional expert interviews are drawn upon for further detail. In essence, it is found that the changing foci of innovation along the underlying technology lifecycles (from system to product to process to service-related innovation) give rise to different market- and technology-related complexity settings. These influence the application of centralised, integrated or decentralised innovation networks with different knowledge and technology transfer modi. A shift of innovation competence from central to peripheral entities is recognised over time: Competence for radical, architectural and systemic innovation largely continues to reside in German headquarters while incremental, component- and service-oriented innovation is becoming a domain of foreign subsidiaries. Additionally, the continued growth of the emerging economies gives rise to increasing innovation capability in the periphery. It nurtures stronger roles of subsidiaries from these high-growth markets for corporate innovation in the future. In summary, single corporations turn to simultaneously orchestrating multiple innovation networks as the diffusion of technology quickens and new peripheral centres of innovation competence evolve. Herein, actively recognising where the respectively needed innovation competences are located and consciously managing international knowledge and technology transfers within firms can be expected to become a key challenge to maintain the `Global Innovation Leadership' claim of German TNCs in the future.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available