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Distance to Frontier, Selection, and Economic Growth

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  • Daron Acemoglu
  • Philippe Aghion
  • Fabrizio Zilibotti

Abstract

We analyze an economy where managers engage both in the adaptation of technologies from the world frontier and in innovation activities. The selection of high-skill managers is more important for innovation activities. As the economy approaches the technology frontier, selection becomes more important. As a result, countires at early stages of development pursue an investment-based strategy, with long term relationships, high average size and age of firms, large average investments, but little selection. Closer to the world technology frontier, there is a switch to innovation-based strategy with short-term relationships, younger firms, less investment and better selection of managers. We show that relatively backward economies may switch out of the investment-based strategy too soon, so certain economic institutions and policies, such as limits on product market competition or investment subsidies, that encourage the investment-based strategy may be beneficial. However, societies that cannot switch out of the investment-based strategy fail to converge to the world technology frontier. Non-convergence traps are more likely when policies and institutions are endogenized, enabling beneficiaries of existing policies to bribe politicians to maintain these policies.

Suggested Citation

  • Daron Acemoglu & Philippe Aghion & Fabrizio Zilibotti, 2002. "Distance to Frontier, Selection, and Economic Growth," NBER Working Papers 9066, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:9066 Note: EFG
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Joseph Zeira, 1998. "Workers, Machines, and Economic Growth," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 113(4), pages 1091-1117.
    2. Tong, Jian & Xu, Chenggang, 2003. "Financial institutions and the wealth of nations: tales of development," Discussion Paper Series In Economics And Econometrics 404, Economics Division, School of Social Sciences, University of Southampton.
    3. Rachel Griffith & Stephen Redding & John Van Reenen, 2004. "Mapping the Two Faces of R&D: Productivity Growth in a Panel of OECD Industries," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 86(4), pages 883-895, November.
    4. Howitt, Peter & Mayer-Foulkes, David, 2005. "R&D, Implementation, and Stagnation: A Schumpeterian Theory of Convergence Clubs," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 37(1), pages 147-177, February.
    5. Acemoglu, Daron & Zilibotti, Fabrizio, 1997. "Was Prometheus Unbound by Chance? Risk, Diversification, and Growth," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 105(4), pages 709-751, August.
    6. Hassler, John & Mora , José V. Rodríguez, 1998. "IQ, Social Mobility and Growth," Seminar Papers 635, Stockholm University, Institute for International Economic Studies.
    7. Tong, Jian & Xu, Chenggang, 2003. "Financial institutions and the wealth of nations: tales of development," Discussion Paper Series In Economics And Econometrics 0404, Economics Division, School of Social Sciences, University of Southampton.
    8. Daron Acemoglu & Simon Johnson & James A. Robinson, 2001. "The Colonial Origins of Comparative Development: An Empirical Investigation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(5), pages 1369-1401, December.
    9. Brezis, Elise S & Krugman, Paul R & Tsiddon, Daniel, 1993. "Leapfrogging in International Competition: A Theory of Cycles in National Technological Leadership," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(5), pages 1211-1219, December.
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • O31 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Innovation and Invention: Processes and Incentives
    • O33 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Technological Change: Choices and Consequences; Diffusion Processes

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