Some developing countries are emerging as nexuses in the globalisation of innovation activities, serving as the location for crucial R&D activities from developed multinational firms (DMFs), which are headquartered in developed countries, and spawning emerging multinational firms (EMFs), which are headquartered in developing countries and conduct some of their R&D in developed countries. This paper proposes a framework and a methodology to identify international patterns of innovation at the firm-level as well as at the national level. According to a reconstruction of the R&D owner-inventor structure, we develop the analytical framework as a 3 × 3 matrix and identify three different patterns for both EMFs and DMFs in the organisation of their R&D internationalisation activities. We derive from this matrix three patterns at the national level to describe the ways how a developing country can reach the global innovation stage. We use China as a case to verify this framework.
Keywords: R&D internationalisation, pattern, patent, multinational firms, China