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Is "Learning-by-Exporting" Important? Micro-Dynamic Evidence from Colombia, Mexico and Morocco

  • Sofronis Clerides
  • Saul Lach
  • James Tybout

Is there any empirical evidence that firms become more efficient after becoming exporters? Do firms that become exporters generate positive spillovers for domestically-oriented producers? In this paper we analyze the causal links between exporting and productivity using firm-level panel data from three semi-industrialized countries. Representing export market" participation and production costs as jointly dependent autoregressive processes, we look for evidence that firms' stochastic cost processes shift when they break into foreign markets. We find that relatively efficient firms become exporters, but firms' unit costs are not affected by previous export market participation. So the well-known efficiency gap between exporters and non-exporters is due to self-selection of the more efficient firms into the export market, rather than learning by exporting. Further, we find some evidence that exporters reduce the costs of breaking into foreign markets for domestically oriented producers, but they do not appear to help these producers become more efficient.

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File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w5715.pdf
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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 5715.

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Date of creation: Aug 1996
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Publication status: published as Quarterly Journal of Economics, no. 454, issue 3 (August 1998): 903-947.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:5715
Note: ITI
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  1. Roberts, M. & Tybout, J., 1993. "An Empirical Model of Sunk Costs and the Decision to Export," Papers 4-93-3, Pennsylvania State - Department of Economics.
  2. Handoussa, Heba & Nishimizu, Mieko & Page, John Jr., 1986. "Productivity change in Egyptian public sector industries after the opening, 1973-1979," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 20(1), pages 53-73.
  3. Aitken, Brian & Hanson, Gordon H. & Harrison, Ann E., 1997. "Spillovers, foreign investment, and export behavior," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 43(1-2), pages 103-132, August.
  4. Richard Baldwin, 1989. "Sunk-Cost Hysteresis," NBER Working Papers 2911, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Andrew B. Bernard & J. Bradford Jensen, 1997. "Exceptional Exporter Performance: Cause, Effect, or Both?," NBER Working Papers 6272, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Chen, Tain-jy & Tang, De-piao, 1987. "Comparing technical efficiency between import-substitution-oriented and export-oriented foreign firms in a developing economy," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 26(2), pages 277-289, August.
  7. Dixit, Avinash K, 1989. "Entry and Exit Decisions under Uncertainty," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 97(3), pages 620-38, June.
  8. Tybout, James R. & Westbrook, M. Daniel, 1995. "Trade liberalization and the dimensions of efficiency change in Mexican manufacturing industries," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 39(1-2), pages 53-78, August.
  9. Guilkey, David K. & Murphy, James L., 1993. "Estimation and testing in the random effects probit model," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 59(3), pages 301-317, October.
  10. Evenson, Robert E. & Westphal, Larry E., 1995. "Technological change and technology strategy," Handbook of Development Economics, in: Hollis Chenery & T.N. Srinivasan (ed.), Handbook of Development Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 37, pages 2209-2299 Elsevier.
  11. Haddad, Mona, 1993. "How trade liberalization affected productivity in Morocco," Policy Research Working Paper Series 1096, The World Bank.
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