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Foreign Direct Investment and Spillovers: Gradualism May Be Better


  • Desmet, Klaus
  • Rojas, Juan A


The standard argument says that in the presence of positive spillovers foreign direct investment should be promoted and subsidized. In contrast, this Paper claims that the very existence of such spillovers may require temporarily restricting and taxing inward FDI. Our argument in favour of gradual liberalization is based on two stylized features of spillovers: first, technology transfers – and subsequent spillovers – are limited by the economy’s absorptive capacity; and second, spillovers take time to materialize. By letting in capital more gradually, initial investment has the time to create spillovers – and upgrade the economy’s absorptive capacity – before further investment occurs. This allows subsequent capital inflows to benefit from greater technology transfers. As a result, the economy converges to a steady state with a superior technology and a greater capital stock.

Suggested Citation

  • Desmet, Klaus & Rojas, Juan A, 2004. "Foreign Direct Investment and Spillovers: Gradualism May Be Better," CEPR Discussion Papers 4660, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:4660

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Gamal Atallah, 2009. "A Three-Period Analysis of R&D Spillovers in the Presence of an Industry Life Cycle Pattern," International Journal of Business and Economics, College of Business and College of Finance, Feng Chia University, Taichung, Taiwan, vol. 8(1), pages 21-35, April.
    2. Wang, Chengqi & Deng, Ziliang & Kafouros, Mario I. & Chen, Yan, 2012. "Reconceptualizing the spillover effects of foreign direct investment: A process-dependent approach," International Business Review, Elsevier, vol. 21(3), pages 452-464.
    3. repec:bla:pacecr:v:22:y:2017:i:1:p:3-22 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Harris, Richard, 2009. "Spillover and backward linkage effects of FDI: empirical evidence for the UK," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 33206, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    5. Herbert Dawid & Benteng Zou, 2017. "Foreign Direct Investment with Endogenous Technology Choice," Pacific Economic Review, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 22(1), pages 3-22, February.

    More about this item


    absorptive capacity; big bang; foreign direct investment; gradualism; liberalization; spillovers; transition economies;

    JEL classification:

    • F20 - International Economics - - International Factor Movements and International Business - - - General
    • O30 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - General
    • P20 - Economic Systems - - Socialist Systems and Transition Economies - - - General

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