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Chairs: Claudio Fassio, Lund University and CIRCLE, Sweden,, Prof. Martin Andersson, Blekinge Institute of Technology and CIRCLE, Sweden, & Prof. Åsa Lindholm Dahlstrand, Lund University and CIRCLE, Sweden,

Modern advanced economies are deeply interconnected with each other through trade-based and knowledge-based linkages, in the forms of global value chains, global production networks, global corporate structures and global innovation networks (Ernst, Kim, 2002; Gereffi, Humphrey, Sturgeon, 2005; Liu, Chaminade, Asheim, 2013). In these international networks of production and innovation activities a major role is played by multinational firms (MNFs) able to leverage resources and inputs scattered geographically and at the same time exploit their competitive advantages at a global scale. MNFs not only directly contribute to exports and to economic growth and employment through their high levels of productivity and innovation. They also contribute indirectly to the overall competitiveness of the economic systems, through specific mechanisms that are able to foster the development of technological capabilities and competitiveness of other firms in the system.

MNFs enable the growth of the overall level of human capital of regions and countries, as embodied in the skilled individuals that they employ. They foster the development of specialized skills of their employees through exposure to internal knowledge flows and best-practices and also act as attractors of talents, since they are often able to hire the best talents both from within and from outside their host country (Fassio et al., 2019). Moreover, the technological and managerial skills embodied in their employees can benefit also other domestic players, for example through job mobility, ensuring a flow of knowledge which the purely domestic players otherwise would not have access to (Baier et al., 2015; Ahlin et al., 2013). MNFs can contribute to the development of innovation systems also through the acquisition of local start-ups: by acquiring innovative small companies and helping them to scale-up (or incorporating them in their own business units), they can allow for a faster diffusion of brand new technologies developed by the start-ups, both within the acquiring firm, and in the economic system in general. Finally, MNFs, through their expert knowledge of foreign markets, their established relations with highly competent foreign suppliers and their knowledge of global technology trends, can act as catalyst of exporting capacity and generate positive spillovers to local firms. This allows local firms to access international markets, hence contributing to their overall competitiveness.

In line with the dynamics outlined above, this special track session aims to collect contributions that analyze the mechanisms through which multinational companies influence knowledge creation and global connectivity within the innovative eco-systems in which they are embedded. The session invites participation in and contributions towards the following topics:

  • Human capital mobility between MNFs and other types of firms and its impact on firms’ performances
  • Acquisition of startups by MNFs

  • Influence of MNFs presence on the regional and global distribution of human capital and innovative activities

  • MNFs as attractors of foreign talents

  • MNFs and global connectivity

Ahlin, L. Andersson, M. Schubert, T. (2013):  Implementing an R&D Strategy without Prior R&D-Experience Recruitment as a Source of R&D-related Routines and Capabilities?  CIRCLE Working Paper 2013/3

Ernst, D., Kim, L., (2002) Global production networks, knowledge diffusion, and local capability formation, Research Policy, 8-9: 1417-1429

Fassio, C., Montobbio, F., and Venturini, A., (2019) Skilled Migration and Innovation in European Industries (with Fabio Montobbio and Alessandra Venturini), Research Policy, 48(3): 706-718.

Gereffi, G., Humphrey, J., and Sturgeon, T. (2005) The governance of global value chains, Review of International Political Economy, 12: 78-104.

Liu, J., Chaminade, C. and Asheim, B. (2013) The Geography and Structure of Global Innovation Networks: A Knowledge Base Perspective, European Planning Studies, 9: 1456-1473

Baier, E., Rammer, C., Schubert, T. (2015). The Impact of Captive Innovation Offshoring on the Effectiveness of Organizational Adaptation, Journal of International Management, 21(2), 150-165




Updated by Rebecca Olsson