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High Tech R&D Subsidies: Estimating the Effects of Sematech

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  • Douglas A. Irwin
  • Peter J. Klenow

Abstract

Sparked by concerns about their shrinking market share, 14 leading U.S. semiconductor producers, with the financial assistance of the U.S. government in the form of $100 million in annual subsidies, formed a joint R&D consortium -- Sematech -- in 1987. Using Compustat data on all U.S. semiconductor firms, we estimate the effects of Sematech on members' R&D spending, profitability, investment, and productivity. In so doing we test two hypotheses: the `commitment' hypothesis that Sematech obligates member firms to spend more on high- spillover R&D, and the `sharing' hypothesis that Sematech reduces duplication of member R&D spending. Whereas the commitment hypothesis provides a rationale for the government subsidies, the sharing hypothesis does not. We find that Sematech induced members to cut their overall R&D spending on the order of $300 million per year, providing support for the sharing hypothesis.

Suggested Citation

  • Douglas A. Irwin & Peter J. Klenow, 1994. "High Tech R&D Subsidies: Estimating the Effects of Sematech," NBER Working Papers 4974, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:4974 Note: ITI
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. d'Aspremont, Claude & Jacquemin, Alexis, 1988. "Cooperative and Noncooperative R&D in Duopoly with Spillovers," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 78(5), pages 1133-1137, December.
    2. Barbara J. Spencer & James A. Brander, 1983. "International R & D Rivalry and Industrial Strategy," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 50(4), pages 707-722.
    3. Cohen, Wesley M. & Levin, Richard C., 1989. "Empirical studies of innovation and market structure," Handbook of Industrial Organization,in: R. Schmalensee & R. Willig (ed.), Handbook of Industrial Organization, edition 1, volume 2, chapter 18, pages 1059-1107 Elsevier.
    4. Suzumura, Kotaro, 1992. "Cooperative and Noncooperative R&D in an Oligopoly with Spillovers," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 82(5), pages 1307-1320, December.
    5. Irwin, Douglas A & Klenow, Peter J, 1994. "Learning-by-Doing Spillovers in the Semiconductor Industry," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 102(6), pages 1200-1227, December.
    6. Jean Tirole, 1988. "The Theory of Industrial Organization," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262200716, January.
    7. Cohen, Linda, 1994. "When Can Government Subsidize Research Joint Ventures? Politics, Economics, and Limits to Technology Policy," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(2), pages 159-163, May.
    8. repec:bin:bpeajo:v:24:y:1993:i:1993-1m:p:197-247 is not listed on IDEAS
    9. Kamien, Morton I & Muller, Eitan & Zang, Israel, 1992. "Research Joint Ventures and R&D Cartels," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 82(5), pages 1293-1306, December.
    10. Reinganum, Jennifer F., 1989. "The timing of innovation: Research, development, and diffusion," Handbook of Industrial Organization,in: R. Schmalensee & R. Willig (ed.), Handbook of Industrial Organization, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 14, pages 849-908 Elsevier.
    11. Jeffrey I. Bernstein & M. Ishaq Nadiri, 1993. "Production, Financial Structure and Productivity Growth in U.S. Manufacturing," NBER Working Papers 4309, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • O3 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights
    • L63 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Manufacturing - - - Microelectronics; Computers; Communications Equipment

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