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IPR, Product Complexity and the Organization of Multinational Firms

  • Alireza Naghavi
  • Julia Spies
  • Farid Toubal

This paper studies how the Intellectual Property Right (IPR) regime in destination countries influences the way multinationals structure the international organization of their production. In particular, we explore how multinationals divide tasks of different complexities across countries with different levels of IPR protection. The analysis studies the decision of firms between procurement from related parties and from independents suppliers at the product level. It also breaks down outsourcing into two types by distinguishing whether or not they involve technology sharing between the two parties. We combine data from a French firm-level survey on the mode choice for each transaction with a newly developed complexity measure at the product level. Our results confirm that firms are generally reluctant to source highly complex goods from outside firm boundaries. By studying the interaction between product complexity and the IPR protection, we obtain that (i) for technology-sharing outsourcing IPRs promote outsourcing of more complex goods to a destination country by guaranteeing the protection of their technology, (ii) for non-technologyrelated-outsourcing IPRs attract the outsourcing of less complex products that are more prone to reverse engineering and simpler to decodify and imitate.

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Paper provided by CEPII research center in its series Working Papers with number 2013-31.

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Date of creation: Oct 2013
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Handle: RePEc:cii:cepidt:2013-31
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  1. Costinot, Arnaud & Oldenski, Lindsay & Rauch, James, 2009. "Adaptation and the Boundary of Multinational Firms," CCES Discussion Paper Series 14, Center for Research on Contemporary Economic Systems, Graduate School of Economics, Hitotsubashi University.
  2. Ma, Yue & Qu, Baozhi & Zhang, Yifan, 2010. "Judicial quality, contract intensity and trade: Firm-level evidence from developing and transition countries," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 38(2), pages 146-159, June.
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  7. Hart, Oliver D. & Moore, John, 1990. "Property Rights and the Nature of the Firm," Scholarly Articles 3448675, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  8. Gregory Corcos & Delphine M. Irac & Giordano Mion & Thierry Verdier, 2008. "The Determinants of Intra-Firm Trade," Development Working Papers 267, Centro Studi Luca d\'Agliano, University of Milano.
  9. John McLaren, 2000. ""Globalization" and Vertical Structure," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(5), pages 1239-1254, December.
  10. Amy Jocelyn Glass, 2004. "Outsourcing under Imperfect Protection of Intellectual Property," Review of International Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 12(5), pages 867-884, November.
  11. Park, Walter G., 2008. "International patent protection: 1960-2005," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 37(4), pages 761-766, May.
  12. Ivus, Olena, 2010. "Do stronger patent rights raise high-tech exports to the developing world?," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 81(1), pages 38-47, May.
  13. Rauch, James E., 1999. "Networks versus markets in international trade," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 48(1), pages 7-35, June.
  14. Gene M. Grossman & Elhanan Helpman, 2002. "Integration Versus Outsourcing In Industry Equilibrium," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 117(1), pages 85-120, February.
  15. Ginarte, Juan C. & Park, Walter G., 1997. "Determinants of patent rights: A cross-national study," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 26(3), pages 283-301, October.
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