Regional Innovation, Inward FDI and Industrial Structure: A Provincial and Firm Level Study of China
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Inward foreign direct investment (FDI) is believed to be a carrier of advanced knowledge to host countries, but how regional factors might impact FDI spillover effects is still uncertain. Meanwhile, regional industrial structure, i.e. specialization and diversity, has been frequently discussed in the literature, but there is no consensus about which type of industrial structure can promote regional innovation. In this thesis, the above two streams of literature are integrated and a theoretical model is proposed in which regional FDI and industrial structure are hypothesized to have direct and interactive effects on regional innovativeness. Provincial- and firm-level panel datasets (2000-2010) were compiled for empirical analyses. The results indicate that a foreign presence is beneficial for both regional and firm innovation capability while these associations are contingent on the level of industrial structure, namely the degree of specialization and diversity. A greater level of regional specialization is less likely to facilitate regional innovators to gain positive spillovers from FDI while an increase in diversity is more likely to reinforce the positive effects of foreign presence on regional innovativeness. As China has become the biggest FDI recipient country in the world in recent years and the Chinese industrial structure has been changing rapidly during the last few decades, an empirical study in the Chinese context would be ideal to examine the debate on the roles of industrial structure and FDI in promoting regional innovativeness. Overall, this research aims to advance the understanding about the moderating role of regional industrial structure in affecting the spillover effect of FDI on regional and firm innovation. The findings not only provide empirical evidence for the specialization versus diversity debate, but also highlight the essential role of contextual factors in facilitating regional innovativeness.
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