Inderscience Publishers

The evolution of R&D capability in multinational corporations in emerging markets: evidence from China

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This paper presents a longitudinal case of Motorola’s R&D subsidiary in Beijing over the period 1998–2008. Through the construction of key events and changes, the paper unfolds the evolutionary process of Motorola’s R&D capability in China, and explores the mechanisms driving that evolution. We find that this R&D subsidiary evolved through four stages: from
a local adaption unit
performing adaptive, peripheral tasks for the local market; to
a local development unit
, undertaking independent product development tasks for the local market; to
a global R&D centre
, being a module of global projects for the global market; and finally, to
a global integration centre
, playing a leading and centrally-coordinating role in global projects for the global market. A balance between exploitation and exploration was achieved through temporal and domain separations, which, in turn, drove the development of the dynamics of component competences and architectural competences in the evolution.

Keywords: global R&D, R&D capability, MNCs, emerging markets, mobile communications, evolution

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