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Do Stronger Intellectual Property Rights Increase International Technology Transfer? Empirical Evidence from U.S. Firm-Level Data


  • Lee Branstetter
  • Raymond Fisman
  • C. Fritz Foley


This paper examines how technology transfer within U.S. multinational firms changes in response to a series of IPR reforms undertaken by 16 countries over the 1982-1999 period. Analysis of detailed firm-level data reveals that royalty payments for technology transferred to affiliates increase at the time of reforms, as do affiliate R&D expenditures and total levels of foreign patent applications. Increases in royalty payments and R&D expenditures are concentrated among affiliates of parent companies that use U.S. patents extensively prior to reform and are therefore expected to value IPR reform most. For this set of affiliates, increases in royalty payments exceed 30 percent. Our results collectively imply that U.S. multinationals respond to changes in IPR regimes abroad by significantly increasing technology transfer to reforming countries.

Suggested Citation

  • Lee Branstetter & Raymond Fisman & C. Fritz Foley, 2005. "Do Stronger Intellectual Property Rights Increase International Technology Transfer? Empirical Evidence from U.S. Firm-Level Data," NBER Working Papers 11516, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:11516
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Mugele, Christian & Schnitzer, Monika, 2008. "Organization of multinational activities and ownership structure," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 26(6), pages 1274-1289, November.
    2. Andrea Fernández-Ribas & Philip Shapira, 2009. "Technological diversity, scientific excellence and the location of inventive activities abroad: the case of nanotechnology," The Journal of Technology Transfer, Springer, vol. 34(3), pages 286-303, June.
    3. Crespo, Nuno & Fontoura, Maria Paula, 2007. "Determinant Factors of FDI Spillovers - What Do We Really Know?," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 35(3), pages 410-425, March.
    4. Thomas Farole & Gokhan Akinci, 2011. "Special Economic Zones : Progress, Emerging Challenges, and Future Directions," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 2341, March.
    5. Felix Groba & Jing Cao, 2015. "Chinese Renewable Energy Technology Exports: The Role of Policy, Innovation and Markets," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 60(2), pages 243-283, February.
    6. Larry D. Qiu & Huayang Yu, 2010. "Does the Protection of Foreign Intellectual Property Rights Stimulate Innovation in the US?," Review of International Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 18(5), pages 882-895, November.
    7. TOMOHARA Akinori, 2017. "Do Migrant and Business Networks Promote International Royalty Receipts?," Discussion papers 17006, Research Institute of Economy, Trade and Industry (RIETI).
    8. Eicher, Theo & García-Peñalosa, Cecilia, 2008. "Endogenous strength of intellectual property rights: Implications for economic development and growth," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 52(2), pages 237-258, February.
    9. Athreye, Suma & Batsakis, Georgios & Singh, Satwinder, 2016. "Local, global, and internal knowledge sourcing: The trilemma of foreign-based R&D subsidiaries," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, vol. 69(12), pages 5694-5702.
    10. Ceyhun Haydaroglu, 2015. "The Relationship between Property Rights and Economic Growth: an Analysis of OECD and EU Countries," DANUBE: Law and Economics Review, European Association Comenius - EACO, issue 4, pages 217-239, December.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • O34 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Intellectual Property and Intellectual Capital
    • O33 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Technological Change: Choices and Consequences; Diffusion Processes
    • F23 - International Economics - - International Factor Movements and International Business - - - Multinational Firms; International Business

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