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International R&D Spillovers: A Re-Examination


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  • Frank Lichtenberg
  • Bruno van Pottelsberghe de la Potterie


Coe and Helpman(1995) have measured the extent to which technology spills over between industrialized countries through the particular channel of trade flows. This paper re-examines two particular features of their study. First, we suggest that their functional form of how foreign R&D affects domestic productivity via imports is probably incorrect. We provide an alternative model which turns out to be more accurate, both theoretically and empirically. Second, we take into account two new potential channels of technology transfer: inward FDI and technology sourcing, as proxied by outward FDI. The empirical results show that outward FDI flows and imports flows are two simultaneous channels through which technology is internationally diffused. Inward FDI flows are not a significant channel of technology transfer. The hypothesis of technology sourcing associated with MNEs activities abroad is therefore confirmed while the widespread belief that inward FDI is a major channel of technology transfer is rejected.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 5668.

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Date of creation: Jul 1996
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Publication status: Published as "International R&D Spillovers: A Comment", European Economic Review, Vol. 42, no. 8 (September 1998): 1483-1491.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:5668

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  1. Griliches, Zvi & Lichtenberg, Frank, 1984. "Interindustry Technology Flows and Productivity Growth: A Re-examination," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 66(2), pages 324-29, May.
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