Globalization drives firms to develop product innovation through their global supply chains. While innovations generated by supply channel members, as opposed to individual partners, are playing an increasingly important role in the success of all supply chain partners, there has been limited research on how supply chain relationships cultivate the process of such innovation generation, particularly in emerging markets. Correspondingly, this study explores how multinational suppliers can develop adaptive product innovation to create competitive advantage in emerging markets. Drawing on the knowledge-based view and transaction cost economics, this study investigates the influence of supplier involvement and other factors on supplier innovation and performance. The results of a survey of 170 multinational automobile suppliers in China provide support for most of the hypotheses. Specifically, supplier involvement in codesign has an inverted U-shaped relationship with product innovation. Furthermore, knowledge protection, trust, and technological uncertainty are all found to drive greater product innovation. In addition, the institutional environment moderates the effect of product innovation on performance. Overall, this study enhances our understanding of how MNEs can acquire local knowledge and develop adaptive products in emerging markets.
Journal of Product Innovation Management, 31(1), 98-113