How does ownership affect the relationship between innovation and export performance of emerging market firms?
This article examines the role of ownership for the relationship between innovation and exports. Empirical results based on a large firm-level data set on Chinese manufacturing firms show that state ownership has a positive moderating effect on the innovation–export relationship. We ascribe this effect to state-owned firms’ privileged access to complementary resources and networks that strengthen their ability to use innovation to generate exports. In contrast to many earlier studies, we find that foreign ownership has a negative moderating effect. One likely reason is that indicators of local innovation do not reflect the flows of knowledge between foreign-owned firms and their parent companies. This finding highlights the fact that innovation and production may be geographically separated within multinational enterprises. A policy implication of the analysis is that public support to innovation is likely to have stronger effects on exports when it targets firms that carry out most of their activities in the domestic market.