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Knowledge diffusion from FDI and Intellectual Property Rights

  • Roger Smeets


  • Albert de Vaal
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    We study the extent to which a country's strength of Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) protection mediates knowledge spillovers from Foreign Direct Investment (FDI). Following the opposing views in the IPR debate, we propose a negative effect of IPR strength on unintentional horizontal (intra-industry) knowledge diffusion. Using a unique firm-level dataset of large, publicly traded firms in 22 (mostly) developed countries, we find partial support for these expectations. Strong IPR indeed reduces horizontal knowledge diffusion, while it stimulates backward (to suppliers) knowledge diffusion. Somewhat unexpectedly however, we also find that forward (to customers) knowledge diffusion decreases with IPR strength. In general, and in line with earlier literature, the results regarding backward knowledge diffusion are most robust to changes in model specification. Our results contribute to the debate regarding the desirability of strengthening national IPR systems, and suggest that local firms might indeed benefit from this through their (backward) linkages with multinationals. Additionally, our results suggest that the moderating effect of IPR strength might partly explain the inconclusive results in the FDI knowledge diffusion literature.

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    Paper provided by CPB Netherlands Bureau for Economic Policy Analysis in its series CPB Discussion Paper with number 168.

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    Date of creation: Feb 2011
    Date of revision:
    Handle: RePEc:cpb:discus:168
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    1. Maurice Kugler, 2006. "Spillovers From Foreign Direct Investment:Within Or Between Industries?," BORRADORES DE ECONOMIA 003523, BANCO DE LA REPÚBLICA.
    2. Rachel Griffith & Stephen Redding & John Van Reenen, 2000. "Mapping the two faces of R&D: productivity growth in a panel of OECD industries," IFS Working Papers W00/02, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
    3. Javorcik, Beata Smarzynska & Spatareanu, Mariana, 2008. "To share or not to share: Does local participation matter for spillovers from foreign direct investment?," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 85(1-2), pages 194-217, February.
    4. Richard Blundell & Steve Bond, 1995. "Initial conditions and moment restrictions in dynamic panel data models," IFS Working Papers W95/17, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
    5. Ann E. Harrison & Brian J. Aitken, 1999. "Do Domestic Firms Benefit from Direct Foreign Investment? Evidence from Venezuela," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(3), pages 605-618, June.
    6. Smith, Pamela J., 2001. "How do foreign patent rights affect U.S. exports, affiliate sales, and licenses?," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 55(2), pages 411-439, December.
    7. Blalock, Garrick & Gertler, Paul J., 2008. "Welfare gains from Foreign Direct Investment through technology transfer to local suppliers," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 74(2), pages 402-421, March.
    8. Markusen, James R., 2002. "Multinational Firms and the Theory of International Trade," MPRA Paper 8380, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    9. Branstetter, Lee & Fisman, Ray & Foley, C. Fritz & Saggi, Kamal, 2011. "Does intellectual property rights reform spur industrial development?," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 83(1), pages 27-36, January.
    10. Julia I. Lane & John C. Haltiwanger & James Spletzer, 1999. "Productivity Differences across Employers: The Roles of Employer Size, Age, and Human Capital," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(2), pages 94-98, May.
    11. Kamal Saggi, 2002. "Trade, Foreign Direct Investment, and International Technology Transfer: A Survey," World Bank Research Observer, World Bank Group, vol. 17(2), pages 191-235, September.
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