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The Economics of Inefficient Technology Use

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  • Paul Beaudry
  • Patrick Francois

Abstract

The adoption and diffusion of technological knowledge is generally regarded as a key element in a country's economic success. However, as is the case with most types of information, the transfer of technological knowledge is likely to be subject to adverse selection problems. In this paper we examine whether asymmetric information regarding who knows how to run a new technology efficiently can explain a set of observations regarding within and cross-country patterns of technology diffusion. In particular, we show how the dynamics of adverse selection in the market for technological knowhow can explain (1) why inefficient technology use may take over a market even when better practice is available, (2) why widespread inefficient use may persist unless a critical mass of firms switch to best practice, (3) why efficient adoption of new technologies is more likely to occur where the existing technology is already productive, where wages are already relatively high, and where the new technology is not too great an advance over the old one, and (4) why the international mobility of knowledgeable individuals does not guarantee the diffusion of best practice technology across countries.

Suggested Citation

  • Paul Beaudry & Patrick Francois, 2007. "The Economics of Inefficient Technology Use," NBER Working Papers 13500, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:13500
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    File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w13500.pdf
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    1. Lucas, Robert E, Jr, 1990. "Why Doesn't Capital Flow from Rich to Poor Countries?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 80(2), pages 92-96, May.
    2. Diego Restuccia & Richard Rogerson, 2008. "Policy Distortions and Aggregate Productivity with Heterogeneous Plants," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 11(4), pages 707-720, October.
    3. Paul Beaudry & Patrick Francois, 2010. "Managerial Skills Acquisition and the Theory of Economic Development," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 77(1), pages 90-126.
    4. Biggs, T. & Shah, M. & Srivastava, P., 1995. "Technological Capabilities and Learning in African Enterprises," Papers 288, World Bank - Technical Papers.
    5. Hall, Bronwyn H. & Khan, Beethika, 2003. "Adoption of New Technology," Department of Economics, Working Paper Series qt3wg4p528, Department of Economics, Institute for Business and Economic Research, UC Berkeley.
    6. David De Ferranti & Guillermo E. Perry & Indermit Gill & J. Luis Guasch & William F. Maloney & Carolina Sanchez-Paramo & Norbert Schady, 2003. "Closing the Gap in Education and Technology," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 15168, July.
    7. Chang-Tai Hsieh & Peter J. Klenow, 2007. "Relative Prices and Relative Prosperity," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 97(3), pages 562-585, June.
    8. Richard K. Johanson & Arvil V. Adams, 2004. "Skills Development in Sub-Saharan Africa," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 15028, July.
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    1. repec:wea:worler:v:2012:y:2012:i:1:p:7 is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • 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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