The globalization of Research & Development in industrial corporations: Towards “reverse innovation”?

The cases of General Electric and Renault
Par Blandine Laperche, Gilliane Lefebvre
According to J. Immelt (General Electric’s CEO), considering the new forms of competition and the existing opportunities in emerging countries, industrial corporations must develop reverse innovation (Immelt et al., 2009). Reverse Innovation consists in designing products no longer in industrialized countries but in emerging countries, where they are going to be marketed first, before being marketed in industrialized countries with a certain number of adjustments. That is the reversed process of “glocalization” that consists in designing products in industrialized countries before adjusting them to emerging countries. In the present research, we would like to go further into this topic by putting it in the context of R&D globalization and by studying two cases: Ge Healthcare and Renault. These two enterprises have largely globalized their R&D activities, but have two different strategies regarding reverse innovation; Renault focusing more on an international relay engineering strategy. Some recent enquiries show that reverse innovation is still not a common strategy. But it raises some important issues regarding the nature and the durability of R&D activities in industrial countries, which we present in this paper.
JEL Codes: F23, 032, L 62, L68
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