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Globalization and innovation with Chinese characteristics: the case of the automotive industry

Claudio Petti (Department of Engineering for Innovation, University of Salento, Lecce, Italy)
Francesca Spigarelli (Department of Law, University of Macerata, Macerata, Italy)
Ping Lv (School of Economics and Management, University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China)
Mario Biggeri (Department of Economics and Management, University of Florence, Florence, Italy)

International Journal of Emerging Markets

ISSN: 1746-8809

Article publication date: 12 November 2019

Issue publication date: 12 February 2021




The purpose of this paper is to analyze the internationalization of Chinese new global players through innovation-oriented Mergers and Acquisitions (M&As).


The paper combines the analysis of East-Asian and Chinese multinationals’ international expansion within international business (IB) and innovation domains, with the “latecomer” perspective. It is a conceptual contribution, based on the role of local institutions and firm’s absorptive capacity. A theoretical framework is developed, and further elucidated with two illustrative cases of Chinese M&As abroad in the automotive sector. Implications for theoretical development and practical application are then drawn.


Chinese firms’ M&As abroad have become one of the preferential modes of developing innovation capabilities. The success of these endeavors is argued to be the result of a combination of a strong push from government industrial policies, along with significant internal knowledge assimilation and transformation capabilities.


The paper extends IB literature integrating the latecomer firms’ perspective within a novel conceptual framework, which adds to the traditional resource-based arguments about incumbent MNEs asset and knowledge-seeking internationalization modes, as well as institutional and multi-dimensional absorptive capacity perspectives.



Petti, C., Spigarelli, F., Lv, P. and Biggeri, M. (2021), "Globalization and innovation with Chinese characteristics: the case of the automotive industry", International Journal of Emerging Markets, Vol. 16 No. 2, pp. 303-322.



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