Multinational Firms, Global Value Chains and the Organization of Knowledge Transfer

Article English OPEN
Saliola, Federica ; Zanfei, Antonello (2009)
  • Subject: Multinational Firms | International Business F230 | Transactional Relationships | Contracts and Reputation | Networks L140 | Industrialization | Manufacturing and Service Industries | Choice of Technology O140 | Choices and Consequences [Technological Change] | Diffusion Processes O330

This paper combines insights from different streams of literature to develop a more comprehensive framework for the analysis of knowledge transfer via value chain relationships. We integrate the existing literature in three ways. First, we consider value chain relationships as a multi-facet process of interaction between buyers and suppliers, involving different modes of knowledge transmission and development. Second, we assess whether and to what extent value chain relationships are associated with the presence of multinationals and with their embeddedness in the host economy. Third, we take into account the capabilities of local firms to handle the technology as a factor influencing knowledge transfer through value chain relationships. Using data on 1,385 firms active in Thailand in 2001-2003, we apply a multinomial logit model to test how the nature and intensity of multinational presence and the competencies of local firms affect the organization of international knowledge transfer. We find that knowledge intensive relationships, which are characterized by a significant transmission of technical and organizational competencies along the value chains, are positively associated with the presence of global buyers in the local market, with the efforts of MNCs to adapt technology to local contexts, and with the technical capabilities of domestic firms. By contrast, the age of subsidiaries and the share of inputs purchased locally appear to increase the likelihood of value chain relationships with a lower technological profile.
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