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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
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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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