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Reconciling Models of Diffusion and Innovation: A Theory of the Productivity Distribution and Technology Frontier

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  • Jess Benhabib
  • Jesse Perla
  • Christopher Tonetti

Abstract

We study how innovation and technology diffusion interact to endogenously determine the shape of the productivity distribution and generate aggregate growth. We model firms that choose to innovate, adopt technology, or produce with their existing technology. Costly adoption creates a spread between the best and worst technologies concurrently used to produce similar goods. The balance of adoption and innovation determines the shape of the distribution; innovation stretches the distribution, while adoption compresses it. On the balanced growth path, the aggregate growth rate equals the maximum growth rate of innovators. While innovation drives long-run growth, changes in the adoption environment can influence growth by affecting innovation incentives, either directly, through licensing of excludable technologies, or indirectly, via the option value of adoption.

Suggested Citation

  • Jess Benhabib & Jesse Perla & Christopher Tonetti, 2017. "Reconciling Models of Diffusion and Innovation: A Theory of the Productivity Distribution and Technology Frontier," NBER Working Papers 23095, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:23095
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • O14 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Industrialization; Manufacturing and Service Industries; Choice of Technology
    • O30 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - General
    • O31 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Innovation and Invention: Processes and Incentives
    • O33 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Technological Change: Choices and Consequences; Diffusion Processes
    • O40 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Growth and Aggregate Productivity - - - General

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