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Teaching locals new tricks: foreign experts as a channel of knowledge transfer


  • Markusen, James R.
  • Trofimenko, Natalia


Gains from productivity and knowledge transmission arising from the presence of foreign firms have received a good deal of empirical attention, but theoretical micro-foundations for this mechanism are limited. Here we develop a dynamic model in which foreign experts may train domestic workers who work with them. Gains from training can in turn be decomposed into two types: (a) obtaining knowledge and skills at a lower cost than if they were self-learnt at home, (b) producing domestic skilled workers earlier in time than if the domestic economy had to rediscover the relevant knowledge through 'reinventing the wheel.' We use fixed effects and nearest neighbour matching estimators on a panel of plant-level data for Colombia that identifies the use of foreign experts, to show that these experts have substantial, although not always immediate, positive effects on the wages of domestic workers and on the value added per worker.

Suggested Citation

  • Markusen, James R. & Trofimenko, Natalia, 2007. "Teaching locals new tricks: foreign experts as a channel of knowledge transfer," CEPR Discussion Papers 6118, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:6118

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    More about this item


    foreign experts; knowledge transfer; spillovers;

    JEL classification:

    • F10 - International Economics - - Trade - - - General
    • F23 - International Economics - - International Factor Movements and International Business - - - Multinational Firms; International Business
    • O24 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Development Planning and Policy - - - Trade Policy; Factor Movement; Foreign Exchange Policy
    • O33 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Technological Change: Choices and Consequences; Diffusion Processes
    • O47 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Growth and Aggregate Productivity - - - Empirical Studies of Economic Growth; Aggregate Productivity; Cross-Country Output Convergence

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