Innovation from emerging market firms: what happens when market ambitions meet technology challenges?


Purpose: Western business-to-business firms are under increasing competition from firms in emerging nations. As examples, Mindray in medical devices, LiuGong in earth moving equipment, Tata motors in Buses and Suzlon in Wind turbines are emerging as strong competitors in their industries. Yet despite increased competition from emerging nation firms, insufficient research has examined the growth of these firms, specifically in the areas of technology and innovation development processes. The purpose of this study is to examine how emerging nation business-to-business firms that have global ambitions achieve technology competence. Design/methodology/approach: The authors examined several case studies on emerging market business-to-business firms that have moved to global markets and highlight the following five: LiuGong China (excavating products), Mindray China (medical equipment), Suzlon Energy India (wind generators), Tata Motors Buses India and BYD Auto China (batteries to electric cars). The firms are in business-to-business markets, except for BYD China that emerged as a business-to-business battery supplier but is currently in both business-to-business and business-to-consumer markets. Findings: The authors find that firms in emerging markets that have global ambitions follow different approaches to innovation development processes from conventional theories and assumptions held by scholars and practitioners in Western developed countries. Our cases suggest that firms follow the proposed progression: domestic markets – internally developed technology; domestic markets –acquired technology; and finally to, global markets – acquired technology. Researchlimitations/implications: The authors contribute to research in three areas. First, they suggest that the innovation development process for emerging market firms is different from the Western world. Second, they provide a framework of innovation development process that can be tested in multiple environments. Third, this study suggests a deeper examination of the longitudinal development of business-to-business firms, an area that has received less attention. Practicalimplications: The authors suggest that firms need to better track their competition from emerging nations because emerging nation firms can quickly acquire technology to become strong competitors. Originality/value: Extant research has not examined these issues.

Publication Title

Journal of Business and Industrial Marketing