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Estimating the Knowledge-Capital Model of the Multinational Enterprise: Comment

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  • Bruce A. Blonigen
  • Ronald B. Davies
  • Keith Head

Abstract

A recent American Economic Review article by David L. Carr, James R. Markusen, and Keith E. Maskus (CMM) estimates a regression specification based upon the 'knowledge-capital' model of the Multinational Enterprise (MNE). The knowledge-capital model combines 'horizontal' motivations for FDI -- the desire to place production close to customers and thereby avoid trade costs -- with 'vertical' motivations -- the desire to carry out unskilled-labor intensive production activities in locations with relatively abundant unskilled labor. The CMM estimates pool inward and outward U.S. affiliate sales data from 1986 through 1994 and appear to support the knowledge-capital model of the MNE. We show that CMM's empirical framework mis-specifies the terms measuring differences in skilled-labor abundance, key variables that identify vertical MNE motivations. After correcting this specification error estimates no longer reject the horizontal model in favor of the knowledge-capital model. Instead, the data strongly support the predictions of the horizontal model of MNEs: affiliate activity between countries decreases as absolute differences in skill-labor abundance widen. Qualitatively identical results are also found using data that include a wider variety of parent and host countries, including data for the OECD.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by American Economic Association in its journal American Economic Review.

Volume (Year): 93 (2003)
Issue (Month): 3 (June)
Pages: 980-994

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Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:93:y:2003:i:3:p:980-994

Note: DOI: 10.1257/000282803322157214
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  1. Brainard, S Lael, 1997. "An Empirical Assessment of the Proximity-Concentration Trade-off between Multinational Sales and Trade," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 87(4), pages 520-44, September.
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  7. Markusen, James R. & Venables, Anthony J., 1996. "The Theory of Endowment, Intra-Industry and Multinational Trade," CEPR Discussion Papers 1341, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  8. David L. Carr & James R. Markusen & Keith E. Maskus, 1998. "Estimating the Knowledge-Capital Model of the Multinational Enterprise," NBER Working Papers 6773, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Markusen, James R & Maskus, Keith E, 2002. "Discriminating among Alternative Theories of the Multinational Enterprise," Review of International Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 10(4), pages 694-707, November.
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  12. James R. Markusen & Anthony J. Venables, 1995. "Multinational Firms and The New Trade Theory," NBER Working Papers 5036, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  14. Markusen, James R., 1984. "Multinationals, multi-plant economies, and the gains from trade," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 16(3-4), pages 205-226, May.
  15. Frankel, Jeffrey A, 1979. "On the Mark: A Theory of Floating Exchange Rates Based on Real Interest Differentials," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 69(4), pages 610-22, September.
  16. Gordon H. Hanson & Raymond J. Mataloni, Jr. & Matthew J. Slaughter, 2001. "Expansion Strategies of U.S. Multinational Firms," NBER Working Papers 8433, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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