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R&D Investment, Exporting, and Productivity Dynamics

  • Bee Yan Aw
  • Mark J. Roberts
  • Daniel Yi Xu

A positive correlation between productivity and export market participation has been well documented in producer micro data. Recent empirical studies and theoretical analyses have emphasized that this may reflect the producer's other investment activities, particularly investments in R&D or new technology, that both raise productivity and increase the payoff to exporting. In this paper we develop a dynamic structural model of a producer's decision to invest in R&D and participate in the export market. The investment decisions depend on the expected future profitability and the fixed and sunk costs incurred with each activity. We estimate the model using plant-level data from the Taiwanese electronics industry and find a complex set of interactions between R&D, exporting, and productivity. The self- selection of high productivity plants is the dominant channel driving participation in the export market and R&D investment. Both R&D and exporting have a positive direct effect on the plant's future productivity which reinforces the selection effect. When modeled as discrete decisions, the productivity effect of R&D is larger, but, because of its higher cost, is undertaken by fewer plants than exporting. The impact of each activity on the net returns to the other are quantitatively unimportant. In model simulations, the endogenous choice of R&D and exporting generates average productivity that is 22.0 percent higher after 10 years than an environment where productivity evolution is not affected by plant investments.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 14670.

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Date of creation: Jan 2009
Date of revision:
Publication status: published as in The American Economic Review, Vol. 101, No. 4, June 2011. p. 1312–44.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:14670
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  1. Sanghamitra Das & Mark J. Roberts & James R. Tybout, 2001. "Market Entry Costs, Producer Heterogeneity, and Export Dynamics," NBER Working Papers 8629, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Yi Daniel Xu, 2008. "A Structural Empirical Model of R&D, Firm Heterogeneity , and Industry Evolution," 2008 Meeting Papers 744, Society for Economic Dynamics.
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  9. Sofronis Clerides & Saul Lach & James Tybout, 1996. "Is "learning-by-exporting" important? Micro-dynamic evidence from Colombia, Mexico and Morocco," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 96-30, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
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  11. Alla Lileeva & Daniel Trefler, 2007. "Improved Access to Foreign Markets Raises Plant-Level Productivity ... for Some Plants," NBER Working Papers 13297, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. John Rust, 1997. "Using Randomization to Break the Curse of Dimensionality," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 65(3), pages 487-516, May.
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  15. John Baldwin & Wulong Gu, 2003. "Export-market participation and productivity performance in Canadian manufacturing," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 36(3), pages 634-657, August.
  16. Zvi Griliches, 1998. "Issues in Assessing the Contribution of Research and Development to Productivity Growth," NBER Chapters, in: R&D and Productivity: The Econometric Evidence, pages 17-45 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  17. Larry Westphal, 2002. "Technology Strategies For Economic Development In A Fast Changing Global Economy," Economics of Innovation and New Technology, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 11(4-5), pages 275-320.
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