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The Complementary Role of Exports and R&D Investments as Sources of Productivity Growth

  • Bee Yan Aw
  • Mark J. Roberts
  • Tor Winston

This paper examines two potential channels of knowledge acquisition that underlie firm productivity growth in the Taiwanese electronics industry: participation in the export market and investments in R&D and/or worker training. We focus on the argument that a firm's own investments in R&D are necessary for the firm to assimilate knowledge or expertise gained from foreign contacts and thus are an important component of the process of learning-by-exporting. Firm-level panel data from 1986, 1991, and 1996 is used to investigate a firm's decision to invest in these two activities and to assess the effects of these investments on the firm's future total factor productivity. The empirical model consists of four equations. The firm's decisions to export and invest in R&D and/or worker training are modeled with a bivariate probit model that recognizes the interdependence of the decisions. We then estimate how participation in these investment activities alters the firm's future productivity trajectory while controlling for the potential selection bias introduced by endogenous firm exit. The primary empirical findings are that, on average, firms that export but do not invest in R&D and/or worker training have significantly higher future productivity than firms that do not participate in either activity. In addition, firms that export and invest in R&D and/or worker training have significantly higher future productivity than firms that only export. These findings are consistent with the hypothesis that export experience is an important source of productivity growth for Taiwanese firms and that firm investments in R&D and worker training facilitate their ability to benefit from their exposure to the export market.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 11774.

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Date of creation: Nov 2005
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Publication status: published as The World Economy, 2007, Wol. 30, No. 1 (January), pp. 83-104
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:11774
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  1. Olley, G Steven & Pakes, Ariel, 1996. "The Dynamics of Productivity in the Telecommunications Equipment Industry," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 64(6), pages 1263-97, November.
  2. Delgado, Miguel A. & Farinas, Jose C. & Ruano, Sonia, 2002. "Firm productivity and export markets: a non-parametric approach," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 57(2), pages 397-422, August.
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  10. Tor Jakob Klette, 1996. "R&D, Scope Economies, and Plant Performance," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 27(3), pages 502-522, Autumn.
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  13. Bee Yan Aw & Xiaomin Chen & Mark J. Roberts, 1997. "Firm-level Evidence on Productivity Differentials, Turnover, and Exports in Taiwanese Manufacturing," NBER Working Papers 6235, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. Robert E Lucas, 1999. "Making a Miracle," Levine's Working Paper Archive 2101, David K. Levine.
  15. Evenson, Robert E. & Westphal, Larry E., 1995. "Technological change and technology strategy," Handbook of Development Economics, in: Hollis Chenery & T.N. Srinivasan (ed.), Handbook of Development Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 37, pages 2209-2299 Elsevier.
  16. Hobday, Mike, 1995. "East Asian latecomer firms: Learning the technology of electronics," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 23(7), pages 1171-1193, July.
  17. Andrew Bernard & Joachim Wagner, 1997. "Exports and success in German manufacturing," Review of World Economics (Weltwirtschaftliches Archiv), Springer, vol. 133(1), pages 134-157, March.
  18. Roberts, Mark J & Tybout, James R, 1997. "The Decision to Export in Colombia: An Empirical Model of Entry with Sunk Costs," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 87(4), pages 545-64, September.
  19. Ericson, Richard & Pakes, Ariel, 1995. "Markov-Perfect Industry Dynamics: A Framework for Empirical Work," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 62(1), pages 53-82, January.
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  21. Aw, Bee Yan & Chung, Sukkyun & Roberts, Mark J, 2000. "Productivity and Turnover in the Export Market: Micro-level Evidence from the Republic of Korea and Taiwan (China)," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 14(1), pages 65-90, January.
  22. Basant, Rakesh & Fikkert, Brian, 1996. "The Effects of R&D, Foreign Technology Purchase, and Domestic and International Spillovers on Productivity in Indian Firms," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 78(2), pages 187-99, May.
  23. David Greenaway & Richard Kneller, 2004. "Exporting and Productivity in the United Kingdom," Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 20(3), pages 358-371, Autumn.
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