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How Special is the Special Relationship? Using the Impact of US R&D Spillovers on UK Firms as a Test of Technology Sourcing

Author

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  • Rachel Griffith
  • Rupert Harrison
  • John Van Reenen

Abstract

How much does US-based R&D benefit other countries and through what mechanisms? We test the "technologysourcing" hypothesis that foreign research labs located on US soil tap into US R&D spillovers and improvehome country productivity. Using panels of UK and US firms matched to patent data we show that UK firmswho had established a high proportion of US-based inventors by 1990 benefited disproportionately from thegrowth of the US R&D stock over the next 10 years. We estimate that UK firms' Total Factor Productivitywould have been at least 5% lower in 2000 (about $14bn) in the absence of the US R&D growth in the 1990s.We also find that technology sourcing is more important for countries and industries who have "most to learn".Within the UK, the benefits of technology sourcing were larger in industries whose TFP gap with the US wasgreater. Between countries, the growth of the UK R&D stock did not appear to have a major benefit for USfirms who located R&D labs in the UK. The "special relationship" between the UK and the US appearsdistinctly asymmetric.

Suggested Citation

  • Rachel Griffith & Rupert Harrison & John Van Reenen, 2004. "How Special is the Special Relationship? Using the Impact of US R&D Spillovers on UK Firms as a Test of Technology Sourcing," CEP Discussion Papers dp0659, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  • Handle: RePEc:cep:cepdps:dp0659
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Adam Jaffe & Manuel Trajtenberg, 1999. "International Knowledge Flows: Evidence From Patent Citations," Economics of Innovation and New Technology, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 8(1-2), pages 105-136.
    2. Charles F. Manski, 1993. "Identification of Endogenous Social Effects: The Reflection Problem," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 60(3), pages 531-542.
    3. Zvi Griliches, 1998. "Patent Statistics as Economic Indicators: A Survey," NBER Chapters,in: R&D and Productivity: The Econometric Evidence, pages 287-343 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Wolfgang Keller, 2004. "International Technology Diffusion," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 42(3), pages 752-782, September.
    5. Bruno Van Pottelsberghe De La Potterie & Frank Lichtenberg, 2001. "Does Foreign Direct Investment Transfer Technology Across Borders?," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 83(3), pages 490-497, August.
    6. Keller, Wolfgang, 1998. "Are international R&D spillovers trade-related?: Analyzing spillovers among randomly matched trade partners," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 42(8), pages 1469-1481, September.
    7. James Levinsohn & Amil Petrin, 2003. "Estimating Production Functions Using Inputs to Control for Unobservables," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 70(2), pages 317-341.
    8. Zvi Griliches, 1998. "Issues in Assessing the Contribution of Research and Development to Productivity Growth," NBER Chapters,in: R&D and Productivity: The Econometric Evidence, pages 17-45 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    9. 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.
    10. Nicholas Bloom & John Van Reenen, 2002. "Patents, Real Options and Firm Performance," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 112(478), pages 97-116, March.
    11. repec:fth:harver:1473 is not listed on IDEAS
    12. Richard Blundell & Stephen Bond, 2000. "GMM Estimation with persistent panel data: an application to production functions," Econometric Reviews, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 19(3), pages 321-340.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    international spillovers; technology sourcing; productivity; patents; R&D;

    JEL classification:

    • O32 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Management of Technological Innovation and R&D
    • O33 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Technological Change: Choices and Consequences; Diffusion Processes
    • F23 - International Economics - - International Factor Movements and International Business - - - Multinational Firms; International Business

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