Due to their lack of firm-specific advantages, Chinese firms (particularly SOEs) as latecomers often engage in outward investments to seek and acquire strategic assets (e.g. technology, brand and advanced management skills), thereby creating a competitive position in international markets and catching up with global giants. Clearly, accessing international knowledge and reverse knowledge transfer from subsidiaries (particularly those in advanced markets) is an important way for Chinese state MNCs from emerging markets to “catch-up”. The strategic asset-seeking behavior of firms from emerging markets have received considerable empirical attention, but little is known on RKT from advanced markets to home country in emerging-market MNCs.

Considering Chinese state MNCs’ unique characteristics - home-country political embeddedness and home emerging market, the research is to investigate the barriers to reverse knowledge transfer from advanced-market subsidiaries to China in Chinese state MNCs. The research will use both qualitative and quantitative approaches through a case study (based on a Chinese city-government MNCs and its four knowledge-seeking) and a survey of 103 Chinese MNCs. Using the data from the case study and survey, the research will explore how home-country political embeddedness and home emerging market institution of Chinese state MNCs influence reverse knowledge transfer through shaping the socialization, cooperation and autonomy/control between headquarter and subsidiary, Chinese headquarter’s absorptive capacity learning intent as well as subsidiary performance and willingness to knowledge transfer.