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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. Carsten Eckel & J. Peter Neary, 2010. "Multi-Product Firms and Flexible Manufacturing in the Global Economy," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 77(1), pages 188-217.
  2. Eckel, Carsten & Iacovone, Leonardo & Javorcik, Beata & Neary, J Peter, 2011. "Multi-Product Firms at Home and Away: Cost- versus Quality-based Competence," CEPR Discussion Papers 8186, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  3. 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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  7. Sergey Lychagin & Joris Pinkse & Margaret E. Slade & John Van Reenen, 2010. "Spillovers in Space: Does Geography Matter?," NBER Working Papers 16188, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Richard E. Baldwin & Gianmarco I. P. Ottaviano, 1998. "Multiproduct Multinationals and Reciprocal FDI Dumping," NBER Working Papers 6483, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Jaffe, A.B. & Trajtenberg, M., 1992. "Geographic Localization of Knowledge Spillovers as Evidenced by Patent Citations," Papers 14-92, Tel Aviv.
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  11. Brambilla, Irene, 2009. "Multinationals, technology, and the introduction of varieties of goods," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 79(1), pages 89-101, September.
  12. Michele Boldrin & David K. Levine, 2012. "The case against patents," Working Papers 2012-035, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.
  13. 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.
  14. 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.
  15. Eric J. Bartelsman & Wayne Gray, 1996. "The NBER Manufacturing Productivity Database," NBER Technical Working Papers 0205, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  16. 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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