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Multinational firms, technology diffusion and trade


  • Ethier, Wilfred J.
  • Markusen, James R.


Empirical evidence indicates a close association between multinational firms and knowledge capital, a public good within the firm. We model a firm which wishes to exploit its knowledge capital abroad, but whose workers learn all the knowledge necessary for production and can defect and produce the good themselves. The home firm must then choose between costly exporting and the possible dissipation of its knowledge capital by producing abroad. The paper examines the choice between exporting, licensing, and acquiring a subsidiary in this environment. We analyze the cost and technology parameters that support the alternative modes of serving the foreign market, and we describe the international equilibrium that jointly determines the pattern of specialization and the market mode.
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  • Ethier, Wilfred J. & Markusen, James R., 1996. "Multinational firms, technology diffusion and trade," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 41(1-2), pages 1-28, August.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:inecon:v:41:y:1996:i:1-2:p:1-28

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Romer, Paul M, 1986. "Increasing Returns and Long-run Growth," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 94(5), pages 1002-1037, October.
    2. Horstmann, Ignatius J & Markusen, James R, 1987. "Strategic Investments and the Development of Multinationals," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 28(1), pages 109-121, February.
    3. Markusen, James R., 1984. "Multinationals, multi-plant economies, and the gains from trade," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 16(3-4), pages 205-226, May.
    4. Ethier, Wilfred, 1979. "Internationally decreasing costs and world trade," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 9(1), pages 1-24, February.
    5. 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.
    6. Romer, Paul M, 1990. "Endogenous Technological Change," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 98(5), pages 71-102, October.
    7. John Dunning, 1981. "Explaining the international direct investment position of countries: Towards a dynamic or developmental approach," Review of World Economics (Weltwirtschaftliches Archiv), Springer;Institut für Weltwirtschaft (Kiel Institute for the World Economy), vol. 117(1), pages 30-64, March.
    8. 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 464-481, August.
    9. Horstmann, Ignatius J. & Markusen, James R., 1992. "Endogenous market structures in international trade (natura facit saltum)," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 32(1-2), pages 109-129, February.
    10. Nicholas, Stephen, 1983. "Agency Contracts, Institutional Modes, and the Transition to Foreign Direct Investment by British Manufacturing Multinationals Before 1939," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 43(03), pages 675-686, September.
    11. Helpman, Elhanan, 1984. "A Simple Theory of International Trade with Multinational Corporations," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 92(3), pages 451-471, June.
    12. Wilson, Robert W, 1977. "The Effect of Technological Environment and Product Rivalry on R&D Effort and Licensing of Inventions," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 59(2), pages 171-178, May.
    13. Wilfred J. Ethier, 1986. "The Multinational Firm," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 101(4), pages 805-833.
    14. Ethier, Wilfred J, 1982. "National and International Returns to Scale in the Modern Theory of International Trade," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 72(3), pages 389-405, June.
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