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The Sensitivity of Strategic and Corrective R&D Policy in Oligopolistic Industries

  • Robert W. Staiger
  • Kyle Bagwell

We evaluate the sensitivity of the case for an R&D subsidy in an export sector when the outcome of R&D is uncertain and when the resulting product market is oligopolistic. Investments in R&D are assumed to induce either first order or mean-preserving second order shifts in the distribution of a firm's costs, with firms then competing in either prices or quantities in the product market. When R&D reduces the mean of a firm's cost distribution in the particular sense of first order stochastic dominance, we find using standard models of product market competition that a national strategic basis for R&D subsidies exists, whether firms choose prices or quantities. This national strategic incentive to subsidize R&D must be balanced against the national corrective incentive to tax R&D that arises whenever the number of domestic firms exceeds one. However, when R & D preserves the mean but alters the riskiness of a firm's cost distribution in the sense of second order stochastic dominance, we find that the national strategic basis for R&D intervention completely disappears, while the national corrective incentive is now to subsidize R&D whenever the number of domestic firms exceeds one. We conclude that the crucial determinant of appropriate R&D policy is the nature of the R&D process itself.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 3236.

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Date of creation: Jan 1990
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Publication status: published as Journal of International Economics, February 1994
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:3236
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  1. Dixit, Avinash, 1984. "International Trade Policy for Oligopolistic Industries," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 94(376a), pages 1-16, Supplemen.
  2. Rothschild, Michael & Stiglitz, Joseph E., 1970. "Increasing risk: I. A definition," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 2(3), pages 225-243, September.
  3. Jean Tirole, 1988. "The Theory of Industrial Organization," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262200716, March.
  4. Steven C. Salop, 1979. "Monopolistic Competition with Outside Goods," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 10(1), pages 141-156, Spring.
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  8. Jonathan Eaton & Gene M. Grossman, 1986. "Optimal Trade and Industrial Policy Under Oligopoly," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 101(2), pages 383-406.
  9. Spencer, Barbara J., 1988. "Capital subsidies and countervailing duties in oligopolistic industries," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 25(1-2), pages 45-69, August.
  10. Kyle Bagwell & Robert W. Staiger, 1989. "The Sensitivity of Strategic and Corrective R&D Policy in Battles for Monopoly," Discussion Papers 868, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
  11. Hadar, Josef & Russell, William R, 1969. "Rules for Ordering Uncertain Prospects," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 59(1), pages 25-34, March.
  12. Cheng, Leonard K, 1987. "Optimal Trade and Technology Policies: Dynamic Linkages," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 28(3), pages 757-76, October.
  13. Dasgupta, Partha & Maskin, Eric, 1987. "The Simple Economics of Research Portfolios," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 97(387), pages 581-95, September.
  14. Brander, James A. & Spencer, Barbara J., 1985. "Export subsidies and international market share rivalry," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 18(1-2), pages 83-100, February.
  15. Tor Klette & David de Meza, 1986. "Is the Market Biased Against Risky R&D?," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 17(1), pages 133-139, Spring.
  16. David M. Kreps & Jose A. Scheinkman, 1983. "Quantity Precommitment and Bertrand Competition Yield Cournot Outcomes," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 14(2), pages 326-337, Autumn.
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