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Multinational Production and the Scope of Innovation

Listed author(s):
  • 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
Handle: RePEc:bol:bodewp:wp879
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  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Eric J. Bartelsman & Wayne Gray, 1996. "The NBER Manufacturing Productivity Database," NBER Technical Working Papers 0205, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. James R. Markusen, 2004. "Multinational Firms and the Theory of International Trade," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262633078, July.
  5. Marc J. Melitz, 2003. "The Impact of Trade on Intra-Industry Reallocations and Aggregate Industry Productivity," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 71(6), pages 1695-1725, November.
  6. Sergey Lychagin & Joris Pinkse & Margaret E. Slade & John Van Reenen, 2016. "Spillovers in Space: Does Geography Matter?," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 64(2), pages 295-335, 06.
  7. Alireza Naghavi & Gianmarco Ottaviano, 2009. "Offshoring and product innovation," Economic Theory, Springer;Society for the Advancement of Economic Theory (SAET), vol. 38(3), pages 517-532, March.
  8. Brambilla, Irene, 2009. "Multinationals, technology, and the introduction of varieties of goods," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 79(1), pages 89-101, September.
  9. Criscuolo, Chiara & Haskel, Jonathan E. & Slaughter, Matthew J., 2010. "Global engagement and the innovation activities of firms," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 28(2), pages 191-202, March.
  10. Marc J. Melitz & Gianmarco I. P. Ottaviano, 2008. "Market Size, Trade, and Productivity," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 75(1), pages 295-316.
  11. 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.
  12. Adam B. Jaffe & Manuel Trajtenberg & Rebecca Henderson, 1993. "Geographic Localization of Knowledge Spillovers as Evidenced by Patent Citations," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 108(3), pages 577-598.
  13. 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.
  14. Bernard, Andrew B. & Jensen, J. Bradford & Schott, Peter K., 2006. "Survival of the best fit: Exposure to low-wage countries and the (uneven) growth of U.S. manufacturing plants," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 68(1), pages 219-237, January.
  15. Michele Boldrin & David K. Levine, 2013. "The Case against Patents," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 27(1), pages 3-22, Winter.
  16. 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, 03.
  17. 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.
  18. 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.
  19. 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.
  20. Helpman, Elhanan, 1984. "A Simple Theory of International Trade with Multinational Corporations," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 92(3), pages 451-471, June.
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