This paper compares the role of innovation and economic performance across European and Latin American countries, using firm level data from France, Spain, Switzerland, Argentina, Brazil and Mexico. We implement a standard structural model linking R&D intensity, innovation and productivity. We find evidences revealing structural differences between regions, but also presence of heterogeneity within regions. In particular, firms tend to face innovation activities to achieve a better economic performance in similar terms along regions, but their interaction with national systems and environments is weaker in developing countries. A heterogeneous effect of foreign subsidiaries is found regarding innovativity whereas it induces better productivity in every country.