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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. 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.
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  3. 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.
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  14. Nicolas Serrano-Velarde & Douglas Hanley & Ufuk Akcigit, 2012. "Back to Basics: Basic Research Spillovers, Innovation Policy and Growth," 2012 Meeting Papers 665, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  15. 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.
  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.
  17. Markusen, James R., 2002. "Multinational Firms and the Theory of International Trade," MPRA Paper 8380, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  18. Michele Boldrin & David K. Levine, 2013. "The Case against Patents," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 27(1), pages 3-22, Winter.
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