The Span of the Effect of R&D in the Firm and Industry
Previous studies have found that the firm's own research and spillovers of research by related firms increase firm productivity. In contrast, in this paper we explore the impact of firm R&D on the productivity of its individual plants. We carry out this investigation of within firm R&D effects using a unique set of Census data. The data, which are from the chemicals industry, are a match of plant level productivity and other characteristics with firm level data on R&D of the parent company, cross-classified by location and applied product field. We explore three aspects of the span of effect of the firm's R&D: (i), the degree to which its R&D is "public" across plants; (ii), the extent of its localization in geographic space, and (iii), the breadth of its relevance outside the applied product area in which it is classified. We find that (i), firm R&D acts more like a private input which is strongly amortized by the number of plants in the firm; (ii), firm R&D is geographically localized, and exerts greater influence on productivity when it is conducted nearer to the plant; and (iii), firm R&D in a given applied product area is of limited relevance to plants producing outside that product area. Moreover, we find that while geographic localization remains significant, it diminishes over time. This trend is consistent with the effect of improved telecommunications on increased information flows within organizations. Finally, we consider spillovers of R&D from the rest of industry, finding that the marginal product of industry R&D on plant productivity, though positive and significant, is far smaller than the marginal product of parent firm's R&D.
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