Journal of International Business Studies

, Volume 41, Issue 7, pp 1183–1197 | Cite as

Returnee entrepreneurs, knowledge spillovers and innovation in high-tech firms in emerging economies

  • Xiaohui Liu
  • Jiangyong Lu
  • Igor Filatotchev
  • Trevor Buck
  • Mike Wright


Using panel data analysis, this paper investigates the impact of returnee entrepreneurs, foreign direct investment (FDI) intensity and inter-firm employee mobility on innovation in Chinese high-tech firms. International technology spillovers and internal R&D efforts are found to jointly determine the innovation performance of Chinese high-tech firms, and we report that the presence of returnee entrepreneurs positively affects innovation. In addition, there are significant knowledge spillover effects associated with returnees and multinational enterprise (MNE) employee mobility, and the effects of these two components of international human mobility on local firms' innovation are mutually reinforcing. We also present the distinctive result that FDI intensity in an industry has a negative impact on local innovation. The findings have important implications for practitioners and policymakers.


returnee entrepreneurs knowledge spillovers inter-firm employee mobility innovation performance emerging markets/countries/economies 



Jiangyong Lu acknowledges financial support from the National Natural Science Foundation of China (70703017). We are grateful to the Editor, Professor Arjen van Witteloostuijn, and four anonymous reviewers for their insightful comments.


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Copyright information

© Academy of International Business 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Xiaohui Liu
    • 1
  • Jiangyong Lu
    • 2
  • Igor Filatotchev
    • 3
  • Trevor Buck
    • 1
  • Mike Wright
    • 4
  1. 1.Loughborough University Business SchoolUK
  2. 2.Guanghua School of Management, Peking UniversityBeijingChina
  3. 3.Sir John Cass Business School, City University LondonLondonUK
  4. 4.Centre for Management Buy-out Research, Nottingham University Business SchoolNottinghamUK

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