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Ralf Ester

DBA Graduate - 2016

Thesis title

The role of global R&D in the development of dynamic capabilities:Lessons from internationalizing high-tech firms


Dimitris Assimakopoulos

Dr. Ralf Ester obtained a DBA from Newcastle University Business School and Grenoble Ecole de Management. Based on his more than 20 years’experience as a founder, managing director, and management consultant, he established his own investment and advisory company, EVC P GmbH, in Germany with a focus on innovation-driven enterprises. In academia, he continues his research on R&D management, digital innovation and entrepreneurship as visiting fellow at KITE (NUBS) and GLORAD.

The purpose of this research is to make a contribution to an empirically based theory to begin answering the open question how dynamic capabilities can be build. The research examines how firms’ dynamic capabilities can be influenced by internationalization of firms’ R&D. The concept of dynamic capabilities explains firms’ ability to achieve new forms of competitive advantage in the global competitive battle in the fast-changing technological environment in high-tech industries. The overarching research question of this study asks how the internationalization of R&D influences the development of dynamic capabilities in high-tech firms. As result, firstly the study delivers a new conceptual framework out of literature which allows a structured analysis of the relationship of firms’ dynamic capabilities development and the internationalization of R&D. By applying this new ‘DC-RAD framework’ the research delivers creative insights from combining two perspectives that have not been combined before. The subsequent study is based on a mixed-method multiple-case study using empirical data from two in-depth cases and twenty-seven additional cases from secondary literature. As second result, the findings of the empirical research lead to nine propositions on how firms’ dynamic capabilities are influenced by internationalization of R&D. These results can be grouped in two categories of influenced capabilities: (1) firms’ capabilities for customer accuracy fit enlargement and (2) firms’ capabilities for local adaptability enhancement. Furthermore as third result, the thesis delivers a new framework as ‘best practices’ based on empirically findings and classify the outcome of dynamic capability development. Specific combinations lead to four new types of best practices: (1) self-centred foreigner, (2) self-centred local, (3) customer-accurate foreigner and (4) customer-accurate local. This study extends the field of strategy and the field of international R&D. It defines a set of generalizable and actionable practices for organizations to develop their capabilities. From these insights, managers can learn how to build dynamic capabilities by taking management decisions regarding the path, organization, team and network of firms’ international R&D to influence the firm’s competitive advantage. As with all studies, the research has some limitations. The main limitation of this research is the data availability of two in-depth cases and twenty-seven additional secondary cases, which leads to several inherent shortcomings in respect of validity and reliability and needs to be covered by future research. In addition, the measurement of the development of dynamic capabilities is still difficult and fuzzy. It is supposed that all relationships are vice-versa relations. Therefore reverse causality between internationalization of R&D and dynamic capability development is obvious. As main originality and value, the paper presents a new DC-RAD framework and posit