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Physical Capital, Knowledge Capital and the Choice Between FDI and Outsourcing

Listed author(s):
  • Yongmin Chen
  • Ignatius J. Horstmann
  • James R. Markusen

There exist two approaches in the literature concerning the multinational firm's mode choice for foreign production between an owned subsidiary and a licensing contract. One approach considers environments where the firm is transferring primarily knowledge-based assets. An important assumption there is that the relevant knowledge is absorbed by the local manager or licensee over the course of time: knowledge is non-excludable. More recently, a number of influential papers have adopted a property-right view of the firm, assuming the application abroad of physical capital, the owner of which retains full and exclusive rights to the capital should a relationship break down. In this paper we combine both forms of capital assets in a single model. The model predicts that foreign direct investment (owned subsidiaries) is more likely than licensing when the ratio of knowledge capital to physical capital is high, or when market value is high relative to the book value of capital (high Tobin's-Q).

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File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w14515.pdf
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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 14515.

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Date of creation: Dec 2008
Publication status: published as Yongmin Chen & Ignatius J. Horstmann & James R. Markusen, 2012. "Physical capital, knowledge capital, and the choice between FDI and outsourcing," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 45(1), pages 1-15, February.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:14515
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  1. Grossman, Sanford J. & Hart, Oliver D., 1986. "The Costs and Benefits of Ownership: A Theory of Vertical and Lateral Integration," Scholarly Articles 3450060, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  2. Antras, Pol, 2003. "Firms, Contracts, and Trade Structure," Scholarly Articles 3196328, Harvard University Department of Economics.
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  6. Robert C. Feenstra & Gordon H. Hanson, 2004. "Ownership and Control in Outsourcing to China: Estimating the Property-Rights Theory of the Firm," NBER Working Papers 10198, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  11. repec:fth:michin:282 is not listed on IDEAS
  12. Wilfred J. Ethier & James R. Markusen, 1991. "Multinational Firms, Technology Diffusion and Trade," NBER Working Papers 3825, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Ignatius Horstmann & James R. Markusen, 1987. "Licensing versus Direct Investment: A Model of Internalization by the Multinational Enterprise," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 20(3), pages 464-481, August.
  14. Glass, Amy Jocelyn & Saggi, Kamal, 2002. " Multinational Firms and Technology Transfer," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 104(4), pages 495-513, December.
  15. Hart, Oliver D. & Moore, John, 1990. "Property Rights and the Nature of the Firm," Scholarly Articles 3448675, Harvard University Department of Economics.
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  19. James R. Markusen, 2004. "Multinational Firms and the Theory of International Trade," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262633078, September.
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