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Towards a metanational research and development (RandD) organization: imagination, reality or the future? An exploratory study

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This paper applies the concept of the metanational organization to the domain of international RandD and postulates the characteristics of a metanational RandD organization. While Doz, Santos and Williamson (2001) illustrated in detail the metanational organization in a general firm context, this concept has not yet been examined for RandD organizations. Metanational RandD organizations are characterized as RandD organizations which are capable of optimally leveraging the technological hierarchy and which use a large number of knowledge bases to their advantage. This means that metanational RandD organizations leverage different technological stages within their RandD organization based in many critical knowledge clusters. Based on an exploratory study of 71 interviews with 51 RandD subsidiaries of multinational firms in Singapore, using a standard interview guide, this paper examines different models of international RandD organizations in comparison to the metanational RandD organization. In metanational terms, Singapore is seen as periphery. Only few firms conduct research in Singapore, most RandD subsidiaries' focus is on development. With Singapore's planned transition into a knowledge-based economy a shift towards more research is essential. This would also imply a change in the perception of the periphery and higher technological sophistication creating a new critical knowledge cluster, a necessary condition for RandD organizations to also tap into the periphery and thus to become metanational. Given this situation, Singapore is one of the better locations to identify metanational RandD organizations in the making. The authors findings indicate that (1) the concept of the metanational organization applies to only a limited extent to RandD organizations, (2) that different international RandD organizations have different performance implications on a subsidiary level and (3) that the notion of the metanational RandD organization is certainly not mere imagination, even if it is reality for only a few RandD organizations today. It could, however, possibly be a new organizational model of international RandD organizations in the future.

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en

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application/pdf

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http://flora.insead.edu/fichiersti_wp/inseadwp2003/2003-78.pdf

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