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Learning on the Quick and Cheap: Gains from Trade Through Imported Expertise

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  • James R. Markusen
  • Thomas F. Rutherford

Abstract

Gains from productivity and knowledge transmission arising from the presence of foreign firms has received a good deal of empirical attention, but micro-foundations for this mechanism are weak . Here we focus on production by foreign experts who may train domestic unskilled workers who work with them. Gains from training can in turn be decomposed into two types: (a) obtaining knowledge and skills at a lower cost than if they are self-taught at home, (b) producing domestic skilled workers earlier in time than if they the domestic economy had to rediscover the relevant knowledge through reinventing the wheel'. We develop a three-period model in which the economy initially has no skilled workers. Workers can withdraw from the labor force for two periods of self study and then produce as skilled workers in the third period. Alternatively, foreign experts can be hired in period 1 and domestic unskilled labor working with the experts become skilled in the second period. We analyze how production, training, and welfare depend on two important parameters: the cost of foreign experts and the learning (or absorptive') capacity of the domestic economy.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 10603.

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Date of creation: Jul 2004
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Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:10603

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  1. Keller, Wolfgang, 1998. "Are international R&D spillovers trade-related?: Analyzing spillovers among randomly matched trade partners," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 42(8), pages 1469-1481, September.
  2. Glass, Amy Jocelyn & Saggi, Kamal, 2002. " Multinational Firms and Technology Transfer," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 104(4), pages 495-513, December.
  3. Magnus Blomstrom & Fredrik Sjoholm, 1998. "Technology Transfer and Spillovers? Does Local Participation with Multinationals Matter?," NBER Working Papers 6816, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Hall, Bronwyn H. & Khan, Beethika, 2003. "Adoption of New Technology," Department of Economics, Working Paper Series qt3wg4p528, Department of Economics, Institute for Business and Economic Research, UC Berkeley.
  5. Ethier, W.J. & Markusen, J.R., 1993. "Multinational Firms, Technology Diffusion and Trade," ISER Discussion Paper 0303, Institute of Social and Economic Research, Osaka University.
  6. Beata Smarzynska Javorcik, 2004. "Does Foreign Direct Investment Increase the Productivity of Domestic Firms? In Search of Spillovers Through Backward Linkages," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(3), pages 605-627, June.
  7. Gong, Guan & Keller, Wolfgang, 2003. "Convergence and polarization in global income levels: a review of recent results on the role of international technology diffusion," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 32(6), pages 1055-1079, June.
  8. Fosfuri, Andrea & Motta, Massimo & Ronde, Thomas, 2001. "Foreign direct investment and spillovers through workers' mobility," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 53(1), pages 205-222, February.
  9. Keller, Wolfgang, 1997. "How trade patterns and technology flows affect productivity growth," Policy Research Working Paper Series 1831, The World Bank.
  10. Markusen, James & Rutherford, Thomas F. & Tarr, David, 2000. "Foreign direct investment in services and the domestic market for expertise," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2413, The World Bank.
  11. Markusen, James R., 2001. "Contracts, intellectual property rights, and multinational investment in developing countries," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 53(1), pages 189-204, February.
  12. James R. Markusen & Anthony J. Venables, 1997. "Foreign Direct Investment as a Catalyst for Industrial Development," NBER Working Papers 6241, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Keller, Wolfgang, 2001. "Geographic Localization of International Technology Diffusion," CEPR Discussion Papers 2706, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  14. James Markusen & Thomas Rutherford & David Tarr, 2005. "Trade and direct investment in producer services and the domestic market for expertise," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 38(3), pages 758-777, August.
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Cited by:
  1. Dieter M. Urban, 2007. "FDI Technology Spillovers and Wages," CESifo Working Paper Series 2132, CESifo Group Munich.
  2. Caudillo Sanchez, Francisco, 2006. "Is information and communication technology (ICT) the right strategy for growth in Mexico?," Freiberg Working Papers 2006,17, TU Bergakademie Freiberg, Faculty of Economics and Business Administration.
  3. Carmen F. Castejón & Julia Wörz, 2006. "Good or Bad? The Influence of FDI on Output Growth: An industry-level analysis," wiiw Working Papers 38, The Vienna Institute for International Economic Studies, wiiw.
  4. Kuan Xu & Zhengxi Lin, 2007. "Participation in Employer-sponsored Training in Canada: Role of Firm Characteristics and Worker Attributes," Department of Economics at Dalhousie University working papers archive paperb1_7_ic_workingpaper, Dalhousie, Department of Economics.

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