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Estimating the Knowledge-Capital Model of the Multinational Enterprise: Comment

  • Bruce A. Blonigen
  • Ronald B. Davies
  • Keith Head

A recent American Economic Review article by David L. Carr, James R. Markusen, and Keith E. Maskus (CMM) estimates a regression specification based upon the 'knowledge-capital' model of the Multinational Enterprise (MNE). The knowledge-capital model combines 'horizontal' motivations for FDI -- the desire to place production close to customers and thereby avoid trade costs -- with 'vertical' motivations -- the desire to carry out unskilled-labor intensive production activities in locations with relatively abundant unskilled labor. The CMM estimates pool inward and outward U.S. affiliate sales data from 1986 through 1994 and appear to support the knowledge-capital model of the MNE. We show that CMM's empirical framework mis-specifies the terms measuring differences in skilled-labor abundance, key variables that identify vertical MNE motivations. After correcting this specification error estimates no longer reject the horizontal model in favor of the knowledge-capital model. Instead, the data strongly support the predictions of the horizontal model of MNEs: affiliate activity between countries decreases as absolute differences in skill-labor abundance widen. Qualitatively identical results are also found using data that include a wider variety of parent and host countries, including data for the OECD.

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File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w8929.pdf
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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 8929.

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Date of creation: May 2002
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Publication status: published as Blonigen, Bruce A., Ronald B. Davies and Keith Head. "Estimating The Knowledge-Capital Model Of The Multinational Enterprise: Comment," American Economic Review, 2003, v93(3,Jun), 980-994.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:8929
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  1. Frankel, Jeffrey A, 1979. "On the Mark: A Theory of Floating Exchange Rates Based on Real Interest Differentials," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 69(4), pages 610-22, September.
  2. Markusen, James R & Venables, Anthony J, 1997. "The Role of Multinational Firms in the Wage-Gap Debate," Review of International Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 5(4), pages 435-51, November.
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  5. Markusen, James R. & Venables, Anthony J, 1996. "The Theory of Endowment, Intra-Industry and Multinational Trade," CEPR Discussion Papers 1341, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
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  7. Helpman, Elhanan, 1984. "A Simple Theory of International Trade with Multinational Corporations," Scholarly Articles 3445092, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  8. Markusen, James R. & Venables, Anthony J., 1998. "Multinational firms and the new trade theory," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 46(2), pages 183-203, December.
  9. James R. Markusen, 1997. "Trade versus Investment Liberalization," NBER Working Papers 6231, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. James R. Markusen & Keith E. Maskus, 1999. "Multinational Firms: Reconciling Theory and Evidence," NBER Working Papers 7163, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Edward M. Graham & Paul Krugman, 1995. "Foreign Direct Investment in the United States, 3rd Edition," Peterson Institute Press: All Books, Peterson Institute for International Economics, number 52, December.
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  13. Markusen, James R & Maskus, Keith E, 2002. "Discriminating among Alternative Theories of the Multinational Enterprise," Review of International Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 10(4), pages 694-707, November.
  14. Gordon H. Hanson & Raymond J. Mataloni & Matthew J. Slaughter, 2001. "Expansion Strategies of U.S. Multinational Firms," BEA Papers 0012, Bureau of Economic Analysis.
  15. Brainard, S Lael, 1997. "An Empirical Assessment of the Proximity-Concentration Trade-off between Multinational Sales and Trade," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 87(4), pages 520-44, September.
  16. Markusen, James R., 1984. "Multinationals, multi-plant economies, and the gains from trade," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 16(3-4), pages 205-226, May.
  17. Ignatius J. Horstmann & James R. Markusen, 1990. "Endogenous Market Structures in International Trade," NBER Working Papers 3283, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  18. Horstmann, Ignatius J & Markusen, James R, 1987. "Strategic Investments and the Development of Multinationals," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 28(1), pages 109-21, February.
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