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Title: Corporate innovation subsidiaries : a framework for knowledge transfer
Author: Geiger, Martha Caroline Amanda
ISNI:       0000 0004 8507 6206
Awarding Body: University of Cambridge
Current Institution: University of Cambridge
Date of Award: 2020
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To remain abreast of ongoing rapid transformations in the industry, incumbent automotive manufacturers have been establishing so-called corporate innovation subsidiaries in prominent innovation clusters, such as Silicon Valley, Tel Aviv, and Beijing, since the mid- to late 1990s. This study is concerned with the transfer of knowledge from these innovation subsidiaries into their respective headquarters. Reviewing previous work in the field of international business, particularly the topics of internationalisation, transfer of knowledge, and subsidiary-headquarters relations, shows a clear gap in the literature: a lack of a holistic approach to reverse, intra-firm knowledge transfer, considering factors not in isolation, but on an aggregate level, including interactions between them. To address this gap, an initial conceptual framework is developed, providing an integrated overview of the factors affecting knowledge transfer. This framework is modified through two phases of in-depth qualitative case studies of automotive corporate innovation subsidiaries. Results reveal that, while the conceptual framework developed from the literature is highly applicable to the research context, there appear to be deeper, underlying issues at work that pose a fundamental obstacle to knowledge transfer from innovation subsidiaries to their headquarters: • Knowledge transfer is not linear as previously suggested by the literature; • Roles of actors are less clear-cut than previously suggested; • Considering global networks of subsidiaries brings added complexities. This study makes two contributions. Firstly, a holistic conceptual framework for knowledge transfer from corporate innovation subsidiaries to their headquarters is developed, illustrating the various factors affecting this transfer, as well as their interconnections. Secondly, by considering not only the dyadic knowledge transfer between a single corporate innovation subsidiary and its headquarters, but by discussing global networks of such subsidiaries, this study contributes to the literature on global innovation (manufacturing, engineering, and R&D) networks.
Supervisor: Minshall, Timothy Herbert Warren Sponsor: EPSRC ; St. John's College
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: corporate innovation ; subsidiary ; automotive ; knowledge transfer