Sources of Learning-by-Exporting Effects: Does Exporting Promote Innovation?
This paper examines whether first-time exporters achieve productivity improvements through learning-by-exporting effects. The results suggest that starting exporting to North America/Europe has a strong positive effect on sales and employment growth, R&D activity, and productivity growth. On the other hand, starting exporting to Asia does not have any strong productivity enhancing effects, although it does tend to raise the growth rates of sales and employment and be associated with an increase in R&D expenditure. However, even for these variables, the positive impact of starting exporting to North America/Europe is much larger. Further analysis shows that export starters to North America/Europe are larger, more productive, more R&D intensive, and more capital intensive than export starters to Asia even before they start exporting, suggesting that the former are potentially better performers than the latter. In other words, the former have greater absorptive capacity, and this absorptive capacity itself may be a source of the larger positive learning-by-exporting effects. Moreover, export starters to North America/Europe become more innovative than export starters to Asia after starting exporting. The results obtained imply that potentially innovative non-exporters should be supported through an export promotion policy. Firms that have the potential to be sufficiently innovative to export to developed regions are likely to benefit from doing so through the positive interaction between exporting and innovation.
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