Challenges and Strategies for Offshoring R&D to Emerging Countries: Evidence from Foreign MNCs R&D Subsidiaries in India

UoM administered thesis: Phd

  • Authors:
  • Dhruba Borah


This thesis studies two key challenges for offshoring R&D activities to emerging countries in terms of recruiting and retaining talent: low-quality of fresh Engineering graduates and high outward mobility of inventors and investigates organisational strategies to overcome these challenges. This thesis is a collection of three research papers. The first paper of this thesis presents research findings from an exploratory study of 12 firms in India to establish how these firms use teaching-focused collaboration strategies with universities to develop graduates with prerequisite skills for R&D positions and overcome the low talent quality challenge. By offering insights into how teaching-focused I-A collaborations are operationalised, and the drivers and challenges for universities and corporations participating in such alliances, this paper strengthens a much-neglected dimension of industry-academia (I-A) collaboration literature: the role of collaborative activities in teaching with industry. In addition, this paper contributes to the human capital theory by demonstrating the potential of teaching-focused I-A collaborations to provide an alternative to the traditional graduate recruitment and development model: in-house on-the-job training. The second paper of this thesis further contributes to this line of research by exploring the HEI-level and institutional determinants of teaching-focused I-A collaborations using mixed methods. Based on 52 interviews and data collected from the websites of 2,224 HEIs, we show that, among institutional factors, academic discipline, government support, location, autonomy, and private ownership drive the involvement of HEIs in teaching-focused collaborations with industry. Among HEI-level factors, size, quality, industrial and academic embeddedness influence their collaborations with industry in teaching. The third paper of this thesis aims at explaining the factors behind the high outward mobility of inventors in emerging countries. We claim that the formal and informal institutional distance of MNCs with the host countries positively impact the outward mobility of inventors from subsidiaries. We also posit that experience plays a moderating role at both the micro level (i.e. at the individual inventor-level) and macro level (i.e. at the MNC-level). Our empirical analysis refers to foreign ICT MNCs in India, in the period 1996-2016, and adopts a novel methodology of tracking mobility of 1,421 inventors on LinkedIn.


Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
Award date1 Aug 2019