The relationship between internationalisation and innovation
: internationalisation strategies, foreign firms', patenting behaviour and FDI spillovers

  • Meng Song

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


This thesis aims to contribute to the understanding of the relationships between internationalisation and innovation. Based on large comprehensive firm level data from China, this thesis comprises of three empirical chapters examining internationalisation from different aspects. Specifically, the first empirical work studies how firms internationalise. It links the choice of firms’ internationalisation strategies with firm characteristics. Additionally, it re-examines the stepwise internationalisation theory by distinguishing different foreign direct investment (FDI) motives. It proposes two pecking orders of firm performance in internationalisation strategies.
The second empirical study investigates what kind of innovation activities internationalised firms do. It analyses the factors that drive foreign firms to patent in an emerging host country context. It stresses the importance of the intellectual property rights protection aspect of business environment at regional level in promoting patents, the role of industry dependence on external finance in shaping foreign firms’ patenting behaviour, as well as links foreign firms’ patent production with FDI motivation.
The third empirical research examines the effect of internationalisation by examining the links between inward FDI and domestic innovation in a host country. It specifically examines technology spillovers from inward FDI through the direct lens of innovation (captured by grant patents), instead of adopting the indirect productivity approach widely employed by the literature. Distinguishing different types of innovation, it provides direct evidence of heterogeneous innovation spillovers from FDI.
Date of Award5 Sept 2014
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorNigel L Driffield (Supervisor) & Jun Du (Supervisor)


  • internationalisation
  • FDI motivation
  • technology spillovers
  • subsidiaries' patent
  • China

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