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How Special is the Special Relationship? Using the Impact of US R&D Spillovers on UK Firms as a Test of Technology Sourcing

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  • Griffith, Rachel
  • Harrison, Rupert
  • Van Reenen, John

Abstract

How much does US-based R&D benefit other countries and through what mechanisms? We test the ‘technology sourcing’ hypothesis that foreign research labs located on US soil tap into US R&D spillovers and improve home country productivity. Using panels of UK and US firms matched to patent data we show that UK firms who had established a high proportion of US-based inventors by 1990 benefited disproportionately from the growth of the US R&D stock over the next 10 years. We estimate that UK firms’ Total Factor Productivity would have been at least 5% lower in 2000 (about $14bn) in the absence of the US R&D growth in the 1990s. We also find that technology sourcing is more important for countries and industries who have ‘most to learn’. Within the UK, the benefits of technology sourcing were larger in industries whose TFP gap with the US was greater. Between countries, the growth of the UK R&D stock did not appear to have a major benefit for US firms who located R&D labs in the UK. The ‘special relationship’ between the UK and the US appears distinctly asymmetric.

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Paper provided by C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers in its series CEPR Discussion Papers with number 4698.

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Date of creation: Oct 2004
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Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:4698

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Keywords: international spillovers; patents; productivity; R&D; technology sourcing;

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  1. Griliches, Zvi, 1990. "Patent Statistics as Economic Indicators: A Survey," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 28(4), pages 1661-1707, December.
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  5. Richard Blundell & Steve Bond, 1999. "GMM estimation with persistent panel data: an application to production functions," IFS Working Papers W99/04, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
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  8. Zvi Griliches, 1998. "Issues in Assessing the Contribution of Research and Development to Productivity Growth," NBER Chapters, in: R&D and Productivity: The Econometric Evidence, pages 17-45 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. James Levinsohn & Amil Petrin, 2000. "Estimating Production Functions Using Inputs to Control for Unobservables," NBER Working Papers 7819, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  11. Bruno Van Pottelsberghe De La Potterie & Frank Lichtenberg, 2001. "Does Foreign Direct Investment Transfer Technology Across Borders?," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 83(3), pages 490-497, August.
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  13. Branstetter, Lee G., 2001. "Are knowledge spillovers international or intranational in scope?: Microeconometric evidence from the U.S. and Japan," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 53(1), pages 53-79, February.
  14. Nicholas Bloom & John Van Reenen, 2002. "Patents, Real Options and Firm Performance," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 112(478), pages C97-C116, March.
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