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Chapter 11 Effects of Subsidiary Autonomy on Innovation Development and Transfer Intensities

Entrepreneurship in the Global Firm

ISBN: 978-1-78052-114-5, eISBN: 978-1-78052-115-2

Publication date: 20 October 2011


Purpose – To explore the influence of autonomy on subsidiaries' development and transfer intensities and their interrelationship.

Methodology/approach – We develop a theoretical model that we test on a sample of 85 innovation projects developed in 63 subsidiaries in 14 countries. The data were collected by personal interviews and analysed using the Partial Least Squares technique.

Findings – Autonomy is an important driver of subsidiaries' innovation intensity although, surprisingly, we find no influence on transfer intensity. We confirm the positive relationship between subsidiary innovativeness and its role as provider of new competence to sister units within the multinational enterprise (MNE).

Research limitations/implications – In line with previous studies, we can say that autonomy is a desirable result of subsidiary evolution. We can also suggest that overall subsidiary autonomy is beneficial not just to the subsidiary but to the rest of the MNE, since the more the subsidiary innovates the more related competence will be transferred. In other words, innovation efforts at subsidiary level are critical to sustain MNEs' overall competitive advantage.

Practical implications – First, it seems that the more a subsidiary's innovativeness is fostered, the more transfers to other units will occur. Second, we have seen how autonomy is beneficial to the innovative activity of the subsidiary and that it does not seem to harm transfer intensity.

Originality/value – Following studies that point out the potential trade-off between the output of development and transfer activities by subsidiaries, our research contributes by empirically testing the relationship between the intensities of subsidiary innovation development and transfer.



Ciabuschi, F. and Martín Martín, O. (2011), "Chapter 11 Effects of Subsidiary Autonomy on Innovation Development and Transfer Intensities", Verbeke, A., Tavares-Lehmann, A.T. and Van Tulder, R. (Ed.) Entrepreneurship in the Global Firm (Progress in International Business Research, Vol. 6), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 251-273.



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