Multinational Firms and Impacts on Employment, Trade, and Technology: New Perspectives for a New Century

By Robert E. Lipsey; Jean-Louis Mucchielli | Go to book overview

10

THE INNOVATIVE ACTIVITIES OF MULTINATIONAL FIRMS IN ITALY *

Giovanni Balcet and Francesca Cornaglia


10.1.

Global technology: definitions and theoretical issues

The notion of technological globalization is far from being clearly defined: indeed, it has been employed in different contexts with different meanings.

It is widely recognized that a general relationship exists between technological change and globalization: the widespread impact of new information and communication technologies may be considered, along with the processes of deregulation, as a prerequisite for globalization processes in industry, services and especially in finance (Balcet 1999). Moreover, the new technologies have created the conditions for the spread of inter-firm networks, that characterizes what has been called 'alliance capitalism' (Dunning 1997) and represents another crucial dimension of globalization. However, technological globalism is much more than a prerequisite. According to Archibugi and Michie (1997), three main definitions may be considered.

The exploitation and transfer of technological innovation in international markets This is not at all a new phenomenon: it is at the core of the mechanism described, since the 1960s, by the well-known product-life-cycle model (Vernon 1966, 1979). In that model, dynamic interrelations between innovators and followers explain both the direction and the evolution over time of international trade flows, as well as the crucial decision of innovative exporting firms to become multinational, via foreign direct investments (FDIs).

*University of Turin, Italy. This paper is part of a wider research project on Technological Globalization in Italy. The research group also includes Rinaldo Evangelista (CNR) and Giulio Perani (ISTAT). In the final version of this paper, Giovanni Balcet wrote Sections 10.1, 10.2 and 10.6; Francesca Cornaglia Sections 10.3, 10.4 and 10.5. The authors thank the participants at the Seventh Sorbonne Conference on the Multinational Enterprise held in Paris in June, 1999, for their useful comments. Financial support by the Italian Ministry of University and Scientific Research is acknowledged.

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