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Multinational Production and the Scope of Innovation

  • S. Bakhtiari
  • A. Minniti
  • A. Naghavi

This research sheds light on the role of multinational production on the type of innovation performed by firms. We construct matched firm-patent data to measure the scope of innovation, that is the extent to which the output of R&D can be spread across different product lines. We focus on two features of multinational production: (i) core knowledge is geographically more difficult to transfer abroad to foreign production sites, (ii) learning spillovers can occur from international operations. The results reveal that the second effect is more likely to dominate when a firm is active in more product lines. We argue that a more diversified portfolio of products increases a firm’s span of learning from international operations, thereby enhancing its ability to engage in more fundamental research. In contrast, firms with fewer product lines that geographically separate production from innovation focus on more specialized types of R&D.

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Paper provided by Dipartimento Scienze Economiche, Universita' di Bologna in its series Working Papers with number wp879.

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Date of creation: May 2013
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Handle: RePEc:bol:bodewp:wp879
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  1. Melitz, Marc J, 2002. "The Impact of Trade on Intra-Industry Reallocations and Aggregate Industry Productivity," CEPR Discussion Papers 3381, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  2. Branstetter, Lee G., 2001. "Are knowledge spillovers international or intranational in scope?: Microeconometric evidence from the U.S. and Japan," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 53(1), pages 53-79, February.
  3. Michele Boldrin & David K. Levine, 2012. "The case against patents," Working Papers 2012-035, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.
  4. Jaffe, A.B. & Trajtenberg, M., 1992. "Geographic Localization of Knowledge Spillovers as Evidenced by Patent Citations," Papers 14-92, Tel Aviv.
  5. Ottaviano, Gianmarco & Melitz, Marc, 2008. "Market Size, Trade, and Productivity," Scholarly Articles 3229096, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  6. Sergey Lychagin & Joris Pinkse & Margaret E. Slade & John Van Reenen, 2010. "Spillovers in Space: Does Geography Matter?," CEP Discussion Papers dp0991, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  7. Brambilla, Irene, 2009. "Multinationals, technology, and the introduction of varieties of goods," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 79(1), pages 89-101, September.
  8. Baldwin, Richard E. & Ottaviano, Gianmarco I. P., 2001. "Multiproduct multinationals and reciprocal FDI dumping," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 54(2), pages 429-448, August.
  9. Zilibotti, Fabrizio & Aghion, Philippe & Acemoglu, Daron, 2006. "Distance to Frontier, Selection, and Economic Growth," Scholarly Articles 4554122, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  10. Eckel, Carsten & Neary, J Peter, 2006. "Multi-Product Firms and Flexible Manufacturing in the Global Economy," CEPR Discussion Papers 5941, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  11. Chiara Criscuolo & Jonathan E. Haskel & Matthew J. Slaughter, 2005. "Global Engagement and the Innovation Activities of Firms," NBER Working Papers 11479, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Eckel, Carsten & Iacovone, Leonardo & Javorcik, Beata & Neary, J. Peter, 2015. "Multi-product firms at home and away: Cost- versus quality-based competence," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 95(2), pages 216-232.
  13. Helpman, Elhanan, 1984. "A Simple Theory of International Trade with Multinational Corporations," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 92(3), pages 451-71, June.
  14. Eric J. Bartelsman & Wayne Gray, 1996. "The NBER Manufacturing Productivity Database," NBER Technical Working Papers 0205, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  15. Costas Arkolakis & Natalia Ramondo & Andrés Rodríguez-Clare & Stephen Yeaple, 2013. "Innovation and Production in the Global Economy," NBER Working Papers 18972, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  16. Alireza Naghavi & Maria Comune, 2012. "The Globalisation of Innovation: Challenges and Opportunities for Europe," Review of Environment, Energy and Economics - Re3, Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei, May.
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