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Mathias Guérineau PhD defense

From diffusion and transfer models to deployment of innovation: a new conceptualization of the downstream phase of the innovation processes of multinational firms.

Thesis to be defended on the 11th of December at 9:15 am and it will take place at ENSTA, Palaiseau.


In a context of increased globalization and the rise of new forces from so-called emerging markets, multinational corporations (MNCs) have developed new innovation strategies. In particular, one of the most considerable transformations has taken place in their innovation processes. MNCs must now face a multiplication of sources of innovation in terms of research and development (upstream phase of the innovation process). They also have to seize all the opportunities for commercialization and appropriation of innovations on a global scale (downstream phase) through their subsidiaries’ network. The upstream phase of this process is complex and iterative in nature because of the integration of multiple and geographically dispersed knowledge. The result of this peculiarity of the MNC’s innovation process is the embededness of innovation at a local level. This embedding makes the downstream phase also complex, not just a marketing process. Up to now the downstream phase has been centrally conceptualized and disembodied from an organizational point of view through the concepts of diffusion and transfer. These approaches do not capture changes in the MNC’s innovation process and do not succed to frame empirical phenomena such as reverse innovation or the specialisation of subsidiaries in certain phases of the innovation process. It is through the study of a unique case, a large French MNC that we explored and analyzed this downstream phase. Thanks to this work, we have defined an integrative framework: the deployment of innovations. It is a process that includes sequencing of the commercialization of an innovation by subsidiaries located in differentiated local contexts and requiring each time to be adapted. This deployment is thus both spatial, because the innovation is utilized in different geographies, and temporal, because adaptations may take place over time. Deployment is therefore a concept that has a descriptive scope (understanding the downstream phase) but can also be utilized by companies (the means to be implemented to optimize this downstream phase). Our main results are based on three levels of analysis. First, at the level of deployment projects and communities to better understand the articulation of deployment between the organization and individuals. Then we put the stress on the skills needed for deployment with the idea that the MNCs must now think of a project deployment function. Finally, on the innovation strategy of MNCs, where we put the role of headquarter and subsidiaries in perspective.

Composition du jury:

Sylvie Chevrier Professeur des Universités, Université Paris-Est Marne-la-Vallée (IRG) rapporteur
Frédéric Gautier Professeur des Universités, IAE de Paris  (GREGOR) rapporteur
Ulrike Mayrhofer Professeur des Universités, IAE de Lyon (Centre de recherche Magellan) examinateur
Pascal Corbel Professeur des Universités, Université Paris Sud (RITM) examinateur
Florence Charue-Duboc Directeur de recherche, Ecole Polytechnique-CNRS (I3-CRG) directeur de thèse
Sihem Ben Mahmoud-Jouini Professeur associé, HEC Paris (CNRS-GREGHEC) co-directeur de thèse