Industrie et mondialisation

The Internationalisation of Business R&D: Evidence, Impacts and Implications


ISBN: 978-92-64-04404-3
Published: June 2008
Pages: 110

Table of contents | How to obtain this publication

Globalisation is quickly reshaping the international economic landscape, resulting in an increasing global supply of science and technology (S&T) resources and capabilities. China and India, for example, have taken their place as important players with a growing capacity for research and innovation.

As global competition intensifies and innovation becomes riskier and more costly, the business sector is internationalising knowledge-intensive corporate functions, including R&D. Firms increasingly offshore R&D activities to other countries to sense new market and technology trends worldwide. Overall, the internationalisation of a firm’s R&D promises substantial benefits (cost efficiency, learning potential, etc) but also creates serious challenges for many countries (such as the loss of R&D jobs and knowledge).

This report brings together the empirical evidence on the internationalisation of business R&D. It analyses trends in the offshoring of R&D, examines its drivers and motivations, and identifies implications for innovation policy. It examines the internationalisation of R&D through foreign direct investment (FDI) by multinational enterprises (MNEs), which account for the bulk of business R&D in the OECD area. It also discusses complementary aspects of the global innovation landscape, such as the internationalisation of science, the growing importance of international technology co-operation and the growing international mobility of researchers.

Table of contents

Executive Summary (download)


Chapter 1. The Activities of Multinationals Abroad

  • Globalisation on the rise: the emergence of global value chains
  • The increasing internationalisation of R&D
  • The role of multinationals in global R&D
  • Most R&D investments abroad still go to OECD countries
  • Increased R&D activity by multinationals in emerging countries
  • Patenting by multinationals abroad
  • Drivers and motivations of foreign direct investment in R&D
  • Outward FDI in R&D by emerging countries
  • Organising and managing R&D internationalisation within MNEs

Chapter 2. The Internationalisation of Innovation

  • The changing landscape for R&D investment
  • The internationalisation of R&D and technology collaboration
  • The internationalisation of science
  • The international mobility of human resources in science and technology
  • The international exploitation of technology

Chapter 3. Policy Implications

  • Challenges and opportunities in the internationalisation of business research and development
  • Policies relating to the internationalisation of R&D by MNEs
  • Policies to encourage the internationalisation of innovation
  • Concluding remarks


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