The article studies the internationalisation of R&D activities of large firms through their inventive activities. It is built on a unique dataset comprising the 2800 largest firms, the Corporate Invention Board. Contrary to most assumptions (often qualitative) done about an acceleration of the internationalisation of R&D activities, it shows on the contrary a stabilisation since the mid-1990s until the beginning of the financial crisis. This overall stabilisation covers contradicting trends: Asian firms remain largely national with a very low level of internationalisation of their R&D firthermore concentrated on other Asian countries. US firms have witnessed a regular increase doubling their rate over the decade but still remaining below the world average (Asia excluded): 17% against 22%. on the contrary European firms have witnessed a consolidation with a decrease of intercontinental investments (especially toward the US) and a strong increase of their efforts within Europe. These results open new questions about internationalisation and drive to a set of new hypotheses that the article develops further.
- large firms, internationalisation, globalisation, R&D, patenting