Welcome > Our Research > Global Innovation and agile multinational companies

Global Innovation and agile multinational companies


The catalyst for our research was the publication of ‘From Global to Metanational'(1)  by Yves Doz and two INSEAD colleagues Jose Santos and Peter Williamson. This was a manifesto for highly dispersed innovation, based on research at a few pioneering firms who were tapping the world for new knowledge. Although "From Global to Metanational "described what this new form of innovation looked like, it didn't explain how firms could build the structures, mechanisms and processes needed to undertake dispersed innovation.

Our journey to try and understand the challenges to building and managing a global innovation capability and how these could be overcome, began in earnest with a forum we organised at INSEAD for senior executives from leading global companies. Over the course of the three days of roundtables and discussion, we were able to outline some of the critical issues that needed attention.

Over the following years, we conducted field research at almost 50 companies from around the world including Citibank, Glaxo SmithKline, HP, Hitachi, IBM, Infosys, Intel, LG Electronics, Novartis, Philips, Samsung, Schneider Electric, Siemens, Telefonica, Toshiba, Vodafone and Xerox. Following an iterative model, at each of the companies we interviewed between five and fifteen people at different sites around the world involved in the strategy and undertaking of innovation. The great majority of these interviews were conducted face-to-face with only a handful taking place by phone.

In conjunction with our field research, in 2004, we teamed up with Booz & Company (then Booz Allen Hamilton) to pursue a joint research agenda to gain a better understanding of global innovation footprints. We jointly conducted in-depth field research into innovation footprints in a number of sectors, but the centrepiece of our collaboration was a survey, ‘Innovation: Is Global the Way Forward'. This was completed by 186 companies from 19 countries and 17 different sectors with an innovation spend of more than US $78 billion(2) . Throughout our research and theory building process, we held various symposia bringing together executives from global companies as sounding boards and intellectual sparring partners.

Keeley Wilson, co-author of Managing Global Innovation:

Keeley spent the first ten years of her career working in the banking and consulting sectors in Northeast Asia and Europe - always in research related roles. She joined INSEAD in 1999 and focused on research into the strategy of firms in Asia. Her next move was to Strategos in London where she helped companies implement new tools and processes to support business model migration, manage strategic alliances and build a wide range of global innovation capabilities. Since then, in collaboration with Yves Doz at INSEAD, she has undertaken numerous research projects looking at innovation strategies across a range of industrial sectors, the challenges of managing global projects, establishing and integrating innovation centres in China and India, optimising innovation footprints and innovation regime change. She has co-authored articles in California Management Review, Harvard Business Review and contributed a chapter to the Oxford Handbook of Management Theorists.  She is a co-author of ‘Managing Global Innovation’, Harvard Business Review Press, 2012.


(1) Doz Y, Santos J and Williamson P, ‘From Global to Metanational: How Companies Win in the Knowledge Economy', Harvard Business School Press, 2001
(2) Doz Y, Wilson K, Veldhoen S and Goldbrunner T, ‘Innovation: Is Global the Way Forward?', Booz Allen Hamilton and INSEAD, 2006

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