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Distance to Frontier, Selection, and Economic Growth

Author

Listed:
  • Daron Acemoglu

    (Massachusetts Institute of Technology.)

  • Philippe Aghion

    (Harvard University.)

  • Fabrizio Zilibotti

    (Institute for International Economic Studies.)

Abstract

We analyze an economy where firms undertake both innovation and adoption of technologies from the world technology frontier. The selection of high-skill managers and firms is more important for innovation than for adoption. As the economy approaches the frontier, selection becomes more important. Countries at early stages of development pursue an investment-based strategy, which relies on existing firms and managers to maximize investment but sacrifices selection. Closer to the world technology frontier, economies switch to an innovation-based strategy with short-term relationships, younger firms, less investment, and better selection of firms and managers. We show that relatively backward economies may switch out of the investment-based strategy too soon, so certain policies such as limits on product market competition or investment subsidies, which encourage the investment-based strategy, may be beneficial. However, these policies may have significant long-run costs because they make it more likely that a society will be trapped in the investment-based strategy and fail to converge to the world technology frontier. (JEL: O31, O33, O38, O40, L16) Copyright (c) 2006 by the European Economic Association.

Suggested Citation

  • Daron Acemoglu & Philippe Aghion & Fabrizio Zilibotti, 2006. "Distance to Frontier, Selection, and Economic Growth," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 4(1), pages 37-74, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:tpr:jeurec:v:4:y:2006:i:1:p:37-74
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Joseph Zeira, 1998. "Workers, Machines, and Economic Growth," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 113(4), pages 1091-1117.
    2. Tong, Jian & Xu, Chenggang, 2003. "Financial institutions and the wealth of nations: tales of development," Discussion Paper Series In Economics And Econometrics 404, Economics Division, School of Social Sciences, University of Southampton.
    3. Rachel Griffith & Stephen Redding & John Van Reenen, 2004. "Mapping the Two Faces of R&D: Productivity Growth in a Panel of OECD Industries," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 86(4), pages 883-895, November.
    4. Howitt, Peter & Mayer-Foulkes, David, 2005. "R&D, Implementation, and Stagnation: A Schumpeterian Theory of Convergence Clubs," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 37(1), pages 147-177, February.
    5. Acemoglu, Daron & Zilibotti, Fabrizio, 1997. "Was Prometheus Unbound by Chance? Risk, Diversification, and Growth," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 105(4), pages 709-751, August.
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    7. Tong, Jian & Xu, Chenggang, 2003. "Financial institutions and the wealth of nations: tales of development," Discussion Paper Series In Economics And Econometrics 0404, Economics Division, School of Social Sciences, University of Southampton.
    8. Daron Acemoglu & Simon Johnson & James A. Robinson, 2001. "The Colonial Origins of Comparative Development: An Empirical Investigation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(5), pages 1369-1401, December.
    9. Brezis, Elise S & Krugman, Paul R & Tsiddon, Daniel, 1993. "Leapfrogging in International Competition: A Theory of Cycles in National Technological Leadership," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(5), pages 1211-1219, December.
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    JEL classification:

    • O31 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Innovation and Invention: Processes and Incentives
    • O33 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Technological Change: Choices and Consequences; Diffusion Processes

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