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Physical capital, knowledge capital, and the choice between FDI and outsourcing

  • Yongmin Chen
  • Ignatius J. Horstmann
  • James R. Markusen

There exist two approaches in the literature concerning the multinational firm's mode choice for foreign production between an owned subsidiary and a licensing contract. One approach considers environments where the firm transfers primarily knowledge-based assets and assumes that knowledge is non-excludable. A more recent approach takes the property-right view of the firm and assumes that physical capital is fully excludable. This paper combines both forms of capital assets in a single model. There are subtleties, and added structure is needed to establish what ex ante seems a straightforward testable hypothesis: relatively physical-capital-intensive firms choose outsourcing while relatively knowledge-capital-intensive firms choose FDI.

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Article provided by Canadian Economics Association in its journal Canadian Journal of Economics.

Volume (Year): 45 (2012)
Issue (Month): 1 (February)
Pages: 1-15

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Handle: RePEc:cje:issued:v:45:y:2012:i:1:p:1-15
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  1. Andrea Fosfuri & Massimo Motta & Thomas Ronde, 1998. "Foreign direct investments and spillovers through workers' mobility," Economics Working Papers 258, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra.
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  12. Robert C. Feenstra & Gordon H. Hanson, 2005. "Ownership and Control in Outsourcing to China: Estimating the Property-Rights Theory of the Firm," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 120(2), pages 729-761.
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  18. Davidson, W H & McFetridge, Donald G, 1984. "International Technology Transactions and the Theory of the Firm," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 32(3), pages 253-64, March.
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