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A Theory of Defensive Skill-based Innovation and Globalization

  • Thoenig, Mathias
  • Verdier, Thierry

This Paper considers a dynamic model of innovations in which firms can endogenously bias the direction of technological change. Both in a North-North and North-South context, we show that, when globalization triggers an increased threat of technological leapfrogging or imitation, firms tend to respond to that threat by biasing the direction of their innovations towards skilled labour-intensive technologies. We show that this process of defensive skill biased innovations generates an increase in wage inequalities in both regions. We then discuss suggestive empirical evidence of the existence of defensive skill biased technical change.

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Paper provided by C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers in its series CEPR Discussion Papers with number 3416.

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Date of creation: Jun 2002
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Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:3416
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  2. Thoenig, M. & Verdier, T., 2000. "Trade Induced Technical Bias and Wage Inequalities: a Theory of Defensive Innovation," DELTA Working Papers 2000-02, DELTA (Ecole normale supérieure).
  3. Paolo Epifani & Gino Gancia, 2002. "The Skill Bias of World Trade," KITeS Working Papers 129, KITeS, Centre for Knowledge, Internationalization and Technology Studies, Universita' Bocconi, Milano, Italy, revised Mar 2001.
  4. David H. Autor & Frank Levy & Richard J. Murnane, 2003. "The Skill Content of Recent Technological Change: An Empirical Exploration," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 118(4), pages 1279-1333.
  5. Acemoglu, Daron, 1997. "Why Do New Technologies Complement Skills? Directed Technical Change and Wage Inequality," CEPR Discussion Papers 1707, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  6. Maurin, Eric & Thesmar, David & Thoenig, Mathias, 2002. "Globalization and the demand for skill: An Export Based Channel," CEPR Discussion Papers 3406, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  7. Daron Acemoglu, 1999. "Patterns of Skill Premia," NBER Working Papers 7018, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  9. Amsden, Alice H, 1983. "'De-Skilling,' Skilled Commodities, and the NICs' Emerging Competitive Advantage," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 73(2), pages 333-37, May.
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  16. Wood, Adrian, 1995. "North-South Trade, Employment and Inequality: Changing Fortunes in a Skill-Driven World," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780198290155, June.
  17. Edward E. Leamer, 1994. "Trade, Wages and Revolving Door Ideas," NBER Working Papers 4716, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  18. Ekholm, Karolina & Midelfart, Karen Helene, 2005. "Relative wages and trade-induced changes in technology," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 49(6), pages 1637-1663, August.
  19. Williams, J.R., 1992. "How Sustainable is your Competitive Advantage?," GSIA Working Papers 1992-03, Carnegie Mellon University, Tepper School of Business.
  20. Markusen, James R. & Venables, Anthony J., 1998. "Multinational firms and the new trade theory," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 46(2), pages 183-203, December.
  21. Freeman, Richard B., 1987. "Demand for education," Handbook of Labor Economics, in: O. Ashenfelter & R. Layard (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 6, pages 357-386 Elsevier.
  22. Evenson, Robert E. & Westphal, Larry E., 1995. "Technological change and technology strategy," Handbook of Development Economics, in: Hollis Chenery & T.N. Srinivasan (ed.), Handbook of Development Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 37, pages 2209-2299 Elsevier.
  23. Raymond Vernon, 1966. "International Investment and International Trade in the Product Cycle," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 80(2), pages 190-207.
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