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Business services and the changing structure of European economic growth

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  • Henk Kox

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  • Luis Rubalcaba

Abstract

A pervasive trend that characterised the past two decades of European economic growth is that the share in the economy of commercial services, and particularly business services, grows monotonically, and this mainly to the expensive of the manufacturing sector. The structural shift reflects a changing and increasingly complex social division of labour between economic sectors. The fabric of inter-industry relations is being woven in a new way due to the growing specialisation in knowledge services, the exploitation of scale economies for human capital, lowered costs of outsourcing in-house services, and the growing encapsulation of manufacturing products in a 'service jacket'. Business services, which inter alia includes the software industry and other knowledge-intensive business services (KIBS), play a key role in many of these processes. We argue that in recent decades business services contributed heavily to European economic growth, in terms of employment, productivity and innovation. A direct growth contribution stems from the business-services sector's own remarkably fast growth, while an indirect growth contribution was caused by the positive knowledge and productivity spill-overs from business services to other industries. The spill-overs come in three forms: from original innovations, from speeding up knowledge diffusion, and from the reduction of human capital indivisibilities at firm level. The external supply of knowledge and skill inputs exploits positive external scale economies and reduces reduces the role of internal (firm-level) scale (dis)economies associated with these inputs. The relatively low productivity growth that characterises some business-services sectors may be a drag on the sector's direct contribution to overall economic growth. The paper argues that there is no reason to expect a "Baumol disease" effect as long as the productivity and growth spill-overs from KIBS to other economic sectors are large enough. Finally, the paper concludes by pinpointing some policy 'handles' that could be instrumental in boosting the future contibution of business services to overall European economic growth.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by CPB Netherlands Bureau for Economic Policy Analysis in its series CPB Memorandum with number 183.

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Date of creation: Jun 2007
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Handle: RePEc:cpb:memodm:183

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  1. Arnold, Jens & Mattoo, Aaditya & Smarzynska Javorcik, Beata, 2006. "Does Services Liberalization Benefit Manufacturing Firms?," CEPR Discussion Papers 5902, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  2. Baumol, William J, 1972. "Macroeconomics of Unbalanced Growth: Reply," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 62(1), pages 150, March.
  3. Curtis Eaton, B. & Lipsey, Richard G., 1989. "Product differentiation," Handbook of Industrial Organization, in: R. Schmalensee & R. Willig (ed.), Handbook of Industrial Organization, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 12, pages 723-768 Elsevier.
  4. Burda, Michael C & Dluhosch, Barbara, 2002. "Cost Competition, Fragmentation, and Globalization," Review of International Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 10(3), pages 424-41, August.
  5. Antonelli, Cristiano, 2001. "The Microeconomics of Technological Systems," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780199245536.
  6. Luis Rubalcaba, 2007. "Services in European Policies," Bruges European Economic Policy Briefings 16, European Economic Studies Department, College of Europe.
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Cited by:
  1. Fernandes, Ana M. & Paunov, Caroline, 2012. "Foreign direct investment in services and manufacturing productivity: Evidence for Chile," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 97(2), pages 305-321.
  2. Tommaso Ciarli & Valentina Meliciani & Maria Savona, 2012. "Knowledge Dynamics, Structural Change And The Geography Of Business Services," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 26(3), pages 445-467, 07.
  3. Francesco Bogliacino & Matteo Lucchese & Mario Pianta, 2011. "Job creation in business services: innovation, demand, polarisation," JRC-IPTS Working Papers on Corporate R&D and Innovation 2011-04, Institute of Prospective Technological Studies, Joint Research Centre.
  4. Love, James H. & Roper, Stephen & Bryson, John R., 2011. "Openness, knowledge, innovation and growth in UK business services," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 40(10), pages 1438-1452.
  5. Desmarchelier, Benoît & Djellal, Faridah & Gallouj, Faïz, 2013. "Knowledge intensive business services and long term growth," Structural Change and Economic Dynamics, Elsevier, vol. 25(C), pages 188-205.
  6. Evangelista, Rinaldo & Lucchese, Matteo & Meliciani, Valentina, 2013. "Business services, innovation and sectoral growth," Structural Change and Economic Dynamics, Elsevier, vol. 25(C), pages 119-132.
  7. Davide CASTELLANI & Valentina MELICIANI & Loredana Mirra, 2012. "The determinants of inward foreign direct investment in business services across european regions," Quaderni del Dipartimento di Economia, Finanza e Statistica 104/2012, Università di Perugia, Dipartimento Economia, Finanza e Statistica.
  8. Mina, Andrea & Bascavusoglu-Moreau, Elif & Hughes, Alan, 2014. "Open service innovation and the firm's search for external knowledge," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 43(5), pages 853-866.
  9. Balasescu, Florin Razvan, 2012. "Is Environmental Dematerialization An Active Factor Of The Sustainable Development?," Studii Financiare (Financial Studies), Centre of Financial and Monetary Research "Victor Slavescu", vol. 16(3), pages 171-184.
  10. Kox, Henk L.M. & van Leeuwen, George, 2013. "Market selection and scale inefficiency – A new methodology applied to EU business services," Structural Change and Economic Dynamics, Elsevier, vol. 25(C), pages 77-94.
  11. Daniel Lind, 2011. "The Myths and Reality of Deindustrialization in Sweden: The Role of Productivity," International Productivity Monitor, Centre for the Study of Living Standards, vol. 22, pages 29-43, Fall.
  12. Fernandes, Ana M. & Paunov, Caroline, 2008. "Foreign direct investment in services and manufacturing productivity growth: evidence for Chile," Policy Research Working Paper Series 4730, The World Bank.
  13. Massimo Armenise & Giorgia Giovannetti & Gianluca Santoni, 2011. "FDI in Business Services has general TFP effects : evidence from Italy," Working Papers - Economics wp2011_12.rdf, Universita' degli Studi di Firenze, Dipartimento di Scienze per l'Economia e l'Impresa.
  14. Rinaldo Evangelista & Matteo Lucchese & Valentina Meliciani, 2013. "The contribution of Business services to the export performances of manufacturing industries. An empirical study on 5 European countries," Working Papers 14, Birkbeck Centre for Innovation Management Research, revised Nov 2013.
  15. Kluck, Christian, 2012. "Zur Beschäftigungsdynamik in der Wissensökonomie: Die Entwicklung von wissensintensiven-unternehmensorientierten Dienstleistungen in Deutschland," Beiträge zur Wirtschaftsgeographie und Regionalentwicklung 2-2012, Universität Bremen, Institut für Geographie.
  16. Kox, Henk L.M. & Leeuwen, George van & Wiel, Henry van der, 2010. "Competitive, but too small - productivity and entry-exit determinants in European business services," MPRA Paper 24389, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  17. Valentina Meliciani & Maria Savona, 2011. "The Determinants of Regional Specialisation in Business Services: Agglomeration Economies, Vertical Linkages and Innovation," SPRU Working Paper Series 193, SPRU - Science and Technology Policy Research, University of Sussex.
  18. Arjan Lejour & Peter Smith, 2008. "International Trade in Services—Editorial Introduction," Journal of Industry, Competition and Trade, Springer, vol. 8(3), pages 169-180, December.

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