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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. Pol Antras, 2004. "Incomplete Contracts and the Product Cycle," 2004 Meeting Papers 19, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  2. Morck, Randall & Yeung, Bernard, 1991. "Why Investors Value Multinationality," The Journal of Business, University of Chicago Press, vol. 64(2), pages 165-87, April.
  3. Oliver Hart & John Moore, 1988. "Property Rights and the Nature of the Firm," Working papers 495, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  4. Glass, Amy Jocelyn & Saggi, Kamal, 2002. " Multinational Firms and Technology Transfer," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 104(4), pages 495-513, December.
  5. 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.
  6. Robert C. Feenstra & Gordon H. Hanson, 2004. "Ownership and Control in Outsourcing to China: Estimating the Property-Rights Theory of the Firm," NBER Working Papers 10198, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Morck, Randall & Yeung, Bernard, 1992. "Internalization : An event study test," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 33(1-2), pages 41-56, August.
  8. repec:fth:michin:282 is not listed on IDEAS
  9. 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.
  10. Markusen, James R., 2002. "Multinational Firms and the Theory of International Trade," MPRA Paper 8380, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  11. Pol Antràs, 2003. "Firms, Contracts, and Trade Structure," NBER Working Papers 9740, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Grossman, Sanford J & Hart, Oliver D, 1986. "The Costs and Benefits of Ownership: A Theory of Vertical and Lateral Integration," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 94(4), pages 691-719, August.
  13. 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.
  14. 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.
  15. James R. Markusen, 1995. "The Boundaries of Multinational Enterprises and the Theory of International Trade," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 9(2), pages 169-189, Spring.
  16. Caves,Richard E., 2007. "Multinational Enterprise and Economic Analysis," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521677530, November.
  17. Caves,Richard E., 2007. "Multinational Enterprise and Economic Analysis," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521860130, November.
  18. Edwin Mansfield & Anthony Romeo, 1980. "Technology Transfer to Overseas Subsidiaries by U. S.-Based Firms," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 95(4), pages 737-750.
  19. Ignatius Horstmann & James R. Markusen, 1987. "Licensing versus Direct Investment: A Model of Internalization by the Multinational Enterprise," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 20(3), pages 464-81, August.
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