Conducting R&D in Countries with Weak Intellectual Property Rights Protection

Submitted by: Submitted by

Views: 385

Words: 12442

Pages: 50

Category: Business and Industry

Date Submitted: 05/14/2013 03:25 AM

Report This Essay

Vol. 52, No. 8, August 2006, pp. 1185–1199 issn 0025-1909 eissn 1526-5501 06 5208 1185




doi 10.1287/mnsc.1060.0516 © 2006 INFORMS

Conducting R&D in Countries with Weak Intellectual Property Rights Protection

Carlson School of Management, University of Minnesota, 3-365 CarlSMgmt, 321 19th Avenue South, Minneapolis, Minnesota 55455,

Minyuan Zhao


ultinational enterprises (MNEs) are increasingly conducting research and development (R&D) in countries such as China and India, where intellectual property rights (IPR) protection is still far from adequate. This paper examines this seemingly puzzling situation. I argue that weak IPR leads to low returns to innovation and underutilization of innovative talents; MNEs that possess alternative mechanisms for protecting their intellectual properties will therefore find it attractive to conduct R&D at those locations. A theoretical framework is developed to capture the interaction between firm strategy and the institutional environment. The empirical analysis on a sample of 1,567 U.S.-headquartered innovating firms finds results consistent with the hypotheses that (i) technologies developed in countries with weak IPR protection are used more internally, and (ii) technologies developed by firms with R&D in weak IPR countries show stronger internal linkages. The results suggest that firms may use internal organizations to substitute for inadequate external institutions. By doing so, they are able to take advantage of the arbitrage opportunities presented by the institutional gap across countries. Key words: R&D; intellectual property rights; MNEs; arbitrage History: Accepted by Pankaj Ghemawat, business strategy; received January 20, 2005. This paper was with the author 4 months for 2 revisions.


In a recent survey on R&D globalization, 84% of executives cited inadequate intellectual property rights (IPR) protection in emerging economies as a challenge...