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Distance to Frontier, Selection, and Economic Growth

  • Zilibotti, Fabrizio
  • Aghion, Philippe
  • Acemoglu, Daron

We analyze an economy where firms undertake both innovation and adoption of technologies from the world technology frontier. The selection of high-skill managers and firms is more important for innovation than for adoption. As the economy approaches the frontier, selection becomes more important. Countries at early stages of development pursue an investment-based strategy, which relies on existing firms and managers to maximize investment but sacrifices selection. Closer to the world technology frontier, economies switch to an innovation-based strategy with short-term relationships, younger firms, less investment, and better selection of firms and managers. We show that relatively backward economies may switch out of the investment-based strategy too soon, so certain policies such as limits on product market competition or investment subsidies, which encourage the investment-based strategy, may be beneficial. However, these policies may have significant long-run costs because they make it more likely that a society will be trapped in the investment-based strategy and fail to converge to the world technology frontier.

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File URL: http://dash.harvard.edu/bitstream/handle/1/4554122/aghion_distancefrontier.pdf
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Paper provided by Harvard University Department of Economics in its series Scholarly Articles with number 4554122.

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Date of creation: 2006
Date of revision:
Publication status: Published in Journal of the European Economic Association
Handle: RePEc:hrv:faseco:4554122
Contact details of provider: Postal: Littauer Center, Cambridge, MA 02138
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Web page: http://www.economics.harvard.edu/

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  1. Peter Howitt & David Mayer-Foulkes, 2002. "R&D, Implementation and Stagnation: A Schumpeterian Theory of Convergence Clubs," NBER Working Papers 9104, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Jian Tong & Xu Chenggang, 2004. "Financial institutions and the wealth of nations: tales of development," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 3745, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  3. Brezis, Elise S & Krugman, Paul R & Tsiddon, Daniel, 1993. "Leapfrogging in International Competition: A Theory of Cycles in National Technological Leadership," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(5), pages 1211-19, December.
  4. Hassler, John & Rodríguez Mora, José Vicente, 1998. "IQ, Social Mobility and Growth," CEPR Discussion Papers 1827, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  5. Joseph Zeira, 1998. "Workers, Machines, And Economic Growth," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 113(4), pages 1091-1117, November.
  6. Acemoglu, Daron & Zilibotti, Fabrizio, 1996. "Was Prometheus Unbound by Chance? Risk, Diversification and Growth," CEPR Discussion Papers 1426, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  7. Daron Acemoglu & Simon Johnson & James A. Robinson, 2000. "The Colonial Origins of Comparative Development: An Empirical Investigation," NBER Working Papers 7771, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Tong, Jian & Xu, Cheng-Gang, 2004. "Financial Institutions and the Wealth of Nations: Tales of Development," CEPR Discussion Papers 4348, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
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