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What is driving robotisation in the automotive value chain? Empirical evidence on the role of FDIs and domestic capabilities in technology adoption

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Guendalina Anzolin, Antonio Andreoni, Antonello Zanfei

Original languageEnglish
Article number102476
Early online date4 Feb 2022
Accepted/In press23 Jan 2022
E-pub ahead of print4 Feb 2022
PublishedJul 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information: We are thankful to Technovation editors and three anonymous reviewers for providing constructive comments. Early versions of this paper were presented at the Gerpisa Colloquium 2019, the ESSA conference in South Africa 2019. Special thanks go to Giovanni Marin, Sofia Torreggiani and Fiona Tregenna for useful discussions and comments. Any remaining errors are the authors? sole responsibility. Publisher Copyright: © 2022 Elsevier Ltd

King's Authors


With a focus on a key production technology of the fourth industrial revolution, we look at the measurable impact of inward foreign direct investments (FDIs) and other host-country-specific factors on the adoption of industrial robots along two main segments of the automotive value chain. We find that FDIs per se do not have a significant effect on the adoption of industrial robots in the host country, but they become significant when interacted with proxies of host countries’ innovation capabilities. Using disaggregated data on robotisation and controlling for endogeneity, we also find that the combination of FDIs and local innovation capacity only impact on robot adoption in the case of the automotive assembly segment. Instead, host-country-specific factors characterising the local industrial eco-system drive robotisation in the components supply segment of the automotive value chain more than in its assembly segment. This confirms the importance of domestic productive capabilities development in the process of manufacturing automation, but also reveals that remarkable heterogeneity exists within the automotive sectoral value chain in terms of drivers of technology adoption.

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