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Technological Change, Trade in Intermediates and the Joint Impact on Productivity

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  • Bøler, Esther Ann
  • Moxnes, Andreas
  • Ulltveit-Moe, Karen-Helene

Abstract

This paper examines the interdependence between innovation and imports of intermediates, and their joint impact on productivity. We do so by developing a quantitative model with heterogeneous firms and international trade where firms can invest in R&D and source inputs internationally. Innovating firms on average become more productive, thereby enabling them to cover the fixed costs of sourcing foreign inputs, which in turn also has a benign impact on measured productivity. Using Norwegian firm-level data on R&D and trade in intermediates, we structurally estimate the model and find that both imports and R&D investment play a key role in explaining firm-level productivity growth. Moreover, the estimated returns to R&D are significantly lower after controlling for the complementarity between R&D investments and imports. We exploit the introduction of an R&D tax credit scheme in Norway in 2002, which lowered the marginal cost of R&D substantially. The estimated structural model can explain most of the observed increase in trade in intermediates as more firms started to innovate, underscoring the quantitative importance of our theoretical mechanism. Moreover, one fifth of measured productivity growth among new innovators came from increased foreign sourcing, rather than technology upgrading, illustrating how trade can amplify productivity gains. An implication of our work is that lower input trade barriers promote technological change. Hence, our work offers a new mechanism through which imports increase productivity, which may help explain why a number of studies find firm-level productivity gains associated with input trade liberalization.

Suggested Citation

  • Bøler, Esther Ann & Moxnes, Andreas & Ulltveit-Moe, Karen-Helene, 2012. "Technological Change, Trade in Intermediates and the Joint Impact on Productivity," CEPR Discussion Papers 8884, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:8884
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Alfonso Exposito & Juan A. Sanchis-Llopis, 2020. "The effects of innovation on the decisions of exporting and/or importing in SMEs: empirical evidence in the case of Spain," Small Business Economics, Springer, vol. 55(3), pages 813-829, October.
    2. Carlo Altomonte & Tommaso Aquilante & Gábor Békés & Gianmarco I.P. Ottaviano, 2013. "Internationalization and innovation of firms: evidence and policy [Managing knowledge within and outside the multinational corporation]," Economic Policy, CEPR;CES;MSH, vol. 28(76), pages 663-700.
    3. Mandelman, Federico S. & Waddle, Andrea, 2020. "Intellectual property, tariffs, and international trade dynamics," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 109(C), pages 86-103.
    4. Ana Maria Santacreu & Federico Gavazzoni, 2015. "International R&D Spillovers and Asset Prices," 2015 Meeting Papers 405, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    5. Ugur, Mehmet & Trushin, Eshref & Solomon, Edna & Guidi, Francesco, 2016. "R&D and productivity in OECD firms and industries: A hierarchical meta-regression analysis," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 45(10), pages 2069-2086.
    6. Santacreu, Ana Maria, 2015. "Innovation, diffusion, and trade: Theory and measurement," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 75(C), pages 1-20.
    7. Colantone, Italo & Crinò, Rosario, 2014. "New imported inputs, new domestic products," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 92(1), pages 147-165.
    8. Bas, Maria & Strauss-Kahn, Vanessa, 2015. "Input-trade liberalization, export prices and quality upgrading," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 95(2), pages 250-262.
    9. María D. Parra & Inmaculada Martínez-Zarzoso, 2014. "Imported intermediate inputs and Egyptian exports: Exploring the links," Working Papers 2014/09, Economics Department, Universitat Jaume I, Castellón (Spain).
    10. Murphy, Gavin & Siedschlag, Iulia, 2012. "The Effect of Real Exchange Rate Changes on Labour Productivity Growth," Papers WP439, Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI).
    11. Trinh, Long Q., 2016. "Dynamics of Innovation and Internationalization among Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises in Viet Nam," ADBI Working Papers 580, Asian Development Bank Institute.
    12. Christian Hepenstrick & Alexander Tarasov, 2015. "Trade Openness and Cross-country Income Differences," Review of International Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 23(2), pages 271-302, May.
    13. Golikova Victoria & Kuznetsov Boris, 2015. "Perception of Risks Associated with Economic Sanctions: The Case of Russian Manufacturing," HSE Working papers WP BRP 115/EC/2015, National Research University Higher School of Economics.
    14. Paul Gaggl & Greg C. Wright, 2017. "A Short-Run View of What Computers Do: Evidence from a UK Tax Incentive," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 9(3), pages 262-294, July.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Imports; innovation; intermediate inputs; productivity; R&; D;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • F10 - International Economics - - Trade - - - General
    • F12 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Models of Trade with Imperfect Competition and Scale Economies; Fragmentation
    • F14 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Empirical Studies of Trade
    • O30 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - General
    • O33 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Technological Change: Choices and Consequences; Diffusion Processes

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