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Absorptive Capacity, R&D Spillovers, and Public Policy

  • Dermot Leahy

    (University College Dublin)

  • J Peter Neary

    (University College Dublin)

Empirical evidence strongly suggests that R&D increases a firm’s "absorptive capacity" (its ability to absorb spillovers from other firms) as well as contributing directly to profitability. We explore the theoretical implications of this. We specify a general model of the absorptive capacity process and show that costly absorption both raises the effectiveness of own R&D and lowers the effective spillover coefficient. This weakens the case for encouraging research joint ventures, even if there is complete information sharing between its members. It also implies an additional strategic pay-off to policies that raise the level of extra-industry knowledge.

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File URL: http://www.ucd.ie/economics/research/papers/2004/WP04.18.pdf
File Function: First version, 2004
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Paper provided by School Of Economics, University College Dublin in its series Working Papers with number 200418.

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Length: 37 pages
Date of creation: 29 May 2004
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:ucn:wpaper:200418
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Web page: http://www.ucd.ie/economics

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  1. Cockburn, Iain M & Henderson, Rebecca M, 1998. "Absorptive Capacity, Coauthoring Behavior, and the Organization of Research in Drug Discovery," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 46(2), pages 157-82, June.
  2. Bruno Cassiman & David Pérez Castrillo & Reinhilde Veugelers, 2000. "Endogeneizing know-how flows through the nature of R&D investments," Economics Working Papers 512, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, revised Mar 2001.
  3. Blomström, Magnus & Kokko, Ari, 1996. "Multinational Corporations and Spillovers," CEPR Discussion Papers 1365, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  4. D Leahy & J.P. Neary, 1997. "R&D Spillovers and the Case for Industrial Policy in an Open Economy," CEP Discussion Papers dp0345, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  5. Keller, Wolfgang, 1996. "Absorptive capacity: On the creation and acquisition of technology in development," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 49(1), pages 199-227, April.
  6. Rachel Griffith & Stephen Redding & John Van Reenen, 2000. "Mapping the two faces of R&D: productivity growth in a panel of OECD industries," IFS Working Papers W00/02, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
  7. Spence, Michael, 1984. "Cost Reduction, Competition, and Industry Performance," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 52(1), pages 101-21, January.
  8. Richard R. Nelson, 1959. "The Simple Economics of Basic Scientific Research," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 67, pages 297.
  9. Katsoulacos, Yannis & Ulph, David, 1998. "Endogenous Spillovers and the Performance of Research Joint Ventures," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 46(3), pages 333-57, September.
  10. Leahy, Dermot & Neary, J Peter, 1997. "Public Policy towards R&D in Oligopolistic Industries," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 87(4), pages 642-62, September.
  11. 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 1133-37, December.
  12. Sourafel Girma, 2005. "Absorptive Capacity and Productivity Spillovers from FDI: A Threshold Regression Analysis," Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, vol. 67(3), pages 281-306, 06.
  13. Fudenberg, Drew & Tirole, Jean, 1984. "The Fat-Cat Effect, the Puppy-Dog Ploy, and the Lean and Hungry Look," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 74(2), pages 361-66, May.
  14. 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 1293-306, December.
  15. Suzumura, Kotaro, 1992. "Cooperative and Noncooperative R&D in an Oligopoly with Spillovers," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 82(5), pages 1307-20, December.
  16. Motta, Massimo, 1996. "Research joint ventures in an international economy," Ricerche Economiche, Elsevier, vol. 50(3), pages 293-315, September.
  17. Cohen, Wesley M & Levinthal, Daniel A, 1989. "Innovation and Learning: The Two Faces of R&D," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 99(397), pages 569-96, September.
  18. Kamien, Morton I. & Zang, Israel, 2000. "Meet me halfway: research joint ventures and absorptive capacity," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 18(7), pages 995-1012, October.
  19. Kenneth Arrow, 1962. "Economic Welfare and the Allocation of Resources for Invention," NBER Chapters, in: The Rate and Direction of Inventive Activity: Economic and Social Factors, pages 609-626 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  20. Audretsch, David B & Feldman, Maryann P, 1996. "R&D Spillovers and the Geography of Innovation and Production," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(3), pages 630-40, June.
  21. Seade, Jesus, 1980. "The stability of cournot revisited," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 23(1), pages 15-27, August.
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