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Technological diffusion, the diffusion of skill and the growth of outsourcing in US manufacturing

  • Elisabetta Magnani

What drives the observed rapid growth of outsourcing in US manufacturing? This article approaches this question by asking whether technological diffusion driven by R&D spillovers is in part responsible for the growth of atypical work arrangements in the USA. Relying on data of technological diffusion since the early 1970s, this study provides some evidence that technological factors may have contributed to the spread of outsourcing. When sample composition effects are accounted for, technological innovation reduces outsourcing in high-tech industries. Furthermore, this study highlights the importance of distinguishing between 'rent' and 'pure knowledge' spillovers. Rent spillovers are positively correlated with outsourcing, whereas pure knowledge spillovers usually decrease the incentive to outsource. Support to the technological diffusion hypothesis is also found, particularly in a sample of high-tech industries after 1980, in which rapid diffusion of IT technologies is notoriously witnessed. Alternative hypotheses are better applied to low-tech industries.

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Article provided by Taylor & Francis Journals in its journal Economics of Innovation and New Technology.

Volume (Year): 15 (2006)
Issue (Month): 7 ()
Pages: 617-647

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Handle: RePEc:taf:ecinnt:v:15:y:2006:i:7:p:617-647
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  1. David H. Autor, 2000. "Outsourcing at Will: Unjust Dismissal Doctrine and the Growth of Temporary Help Employment," JCPR Working Papers 153, Northwestern University/University of Chicago Joint Center for Poverty Research.
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  9. Zvi Griliches & Jacques Mairesse, 1981. "Productivity and R and D at the Firm Level," NBER Working Papers 0826, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Bart Verspagen, 1997. "Measuring Intersectoral Technology Spillovers: Estimates from the European and US Patent Office Databases," Economic Systems Research, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 9(1), pages 47-65.
  11. Cohen, Wesley M & Levinthal, Daniel A, 1989. "Innovation and Learning: The Two Faces of R&D," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 99(397), pages 569-96, September.
  12. Fixler, Dennis J. & Siegel, Donald, 1999. "Outsourcing and productivity growth in services," Structural Change and Economic Dynamics, Elsevier, vol. 10(2), pages 177-194, June.
  13. Dale T. Mortensen & Christopher A. Pissarides, 1993. "Job Creation and Job Destruction in the Theory of Unemployment," CEP Discussion Papers dp0110, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
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