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

Listed author(s):
  • Douglas A. Irwin
  • Peter J. Klenow

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.

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File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w4974.pdf
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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 4974.

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Date of creation: Dec 1994
Publication status: published as Journal of International Economics, vol. 40, no. 3/4, May 1996, pp. 323-344
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:4974
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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. Jean Tirole, 1988. "The Theory of Industrial Organization," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262200716.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. Jovanovic, B., 1993. "The Diversification of Production," Working Papers 93-11, C.V. Starr Center for Applied Economics, New York University.
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