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Home arrow Business & Finance arrow Human Capital and Innovation: Examining the Role of Globalization
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This qualitative study is focused on enhancing our understanding of certain under-researched phenomena. It does so by adopting a non-linear, non-positivistic abductive approach of systematic combining (Dubois & Gadde, 2002). Systematic combining is a process where ‘theoretical framework, empirical fieldwork, and case analysis evolve simultaneously’ (Dubois & Gadde, 2002 p. 554). This approach scrutinises a particular phenomenon rather than increasing the number of cases while considering the richness of the research context (Dyer & Wilkings, 1991). Interviews were chosen as the best means of collecting data, because they offer a suitable and efficient way to obtain highly personalised data with a good return rate (David & Sutton, 2004, p. 214).

The informant selection of this study followed the spirit of a nonlinear abductive research approach and the recommendations of Halinen and Tornroos (2005). Accordingly, the informants were chosen by way of a purposive sampling strategy (Saunders, 2012). Consequently, only Western informants with personal work experience in the fields of innovation or business development, or in R&D functions in China were interviewed. Their hands-on experience from a variety of industries and organisations operating in China, as well as their exemplifying national, organisational, or individual aspects of the phenomenon increase the validity of the findings (Yin, 2014) and provide multiple sources of evidence (Lincoln & Guba, 1985). The informants were located and approached via LinkedIn and through personal contacts. These informant selection strategies also provided a source for further snowballing. As a result, 55 informants were interviewed in two waves either via Skype, or in person in China between 2013 and 2015. The first round in late 2013 and early 2014 was focused on the experiences of western professionals with either personal managerial or operative responsibility with western MNCs in China in Guangdong province, Beijing, and Shanghai. The second round took place in late 2015 and was focused on individuals with either consultancy or governmental experience in China from the R&D and innovation development perspectives. The interview selection process was intended to provide rich subjective and contextual insights into the topic from multiple perspectives (Prasad & Prasad, 2002), and deliver enough material to achieve data saturation (Saunders, 2012).

All informants were informed of the purpose of the research and offered an opportunity to withdraw from the interview at any point or decline to answer any uncomfortable questions. All informants were also guaranteed anonymity and that their contribution would be anonymous, as recommended in the literature (Saunders, Lewis, & Thornhill, 2009). These terms encouraged informants to participate and enhanced their willingness to share their experiences. Therefore, and due to the sensitive nature of themes emerging from the data, this study does not reveal the names of companies or detailed information on the informants. All informants were invited to choose the interview spot and time that would foster a relaxed atmosphere for the interviews. Consequently, all face-to-face interviews were conducted in relaxed and comfortable surroundings such as cafes, restaurants, private homes, or hotel lobbies in China (Saunders et al., 2009). Following the suggestion in the literature, a language equality approach was adopted for those informants who used the same mother tongue as the author. For the other non-native English speakers, the mutual disadvantage approach was applied by using English as the interview language (Marschan-Piekkari & Reis, 2004). Further background information on the informants is presented in Table 8.1 below.

Table 8.1 Background information on the informants

Gender

Female

Male

In total

No of informants

8

47

55

Length of professional experience in China

>5 years

5-10 years

10< years

In total

No of informants

30

13

12

55

Type of position

General

mgmt

HR

R&D

Legal

Governmental

position

In total

No of informants

12

13

10

4

6

55

Field of industry

Government

Consumer

electronics

Machinery

Metallurgy

Plastics

Automation

Consultancy Software

In

total

No of informants

6

14

6

4

7

6

6 6

55

Informants were given broad themes to reflect upon and were invited to relate their experiences of and observations on China. Themes were related to the development of China and how different forms of global talent flow contribute to that phenomenon. Discussion topics included: the technological and economic development of China, so as to identify the innovation development performance phases; the identification and development of the different types of talent pool available in China, so as to bolster understanding of the various forms of global talent flow; and other factors that contribute to each phase and why. In addition, the informants were canvassed for their opinions on the role of Westerners and western organisations in China. These themes were selected to provide a detailed understanding of the research question from multiple perspectives. This approach led to a substantial amount of iterative questioning and probing as new issues emerged, or as consequence of information gathered in previous interviews (Saunders et al., 2009). All interviews were recorded with the permission of the informants and transcribed verbatim.

Initially, the transcriptions of the interview content and the accompanying notes were read several times. All the findings related to the research question were then coded and arranged on a timeline in accordance with the interpretative content analysis approach (Yin, 2014; Mayring, 2004. The next step was to identify those findings related to the different phases of the development of innovation performance. This stage involved the identification of the product, service, and manufacturing types present in China. There followed an assessment of how different types of global talent flow appeared in each identified innovation performance development phase and why. These assessment steps followed the idea of Lee’s (1966) pull and push factors as well as intervening obstacles, which must be overcome during the evolution of each phase in China. Pull factors in this study refer to factors that enhance global talent flow for the favour of China’s innovation performance development, whereas push factors have the opposite effect. The non-linear research approach meant the assessment of data took place in parallel with the data collection, and the assessment stage featured a considerable amount of iteration. Below, all the findings of the current research are illustrated by direct quotations as suggested in the qualitative research literature (Saunders, 2012). Each presented quote illustrates typical reflections emerging from the data.

 
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