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Stop Crying over Spilt Knowledge: A Critical Look at the Theory of Spillovers and Technical Change

Listed author(s):
  • Richard N. Langlois

    (University of Connecticut)

  • Paul L. Robertson

    (University of New South Wales)

This essay analyzes critically the idea of knowledge spillovers, especially as it enters the New Growth Theory. The conventional theory of spillovers, we argue, suffers from a thin and misleading account of the nature of productive knowledge. In this model, firms undersupply R&D, which impedes economic growth and calls for research subsidies. We argue, by contrast, that a more subtle picture of the creation of knowledge, and the presence of network externalities (including true Marshallian external economies), tend to reverse the predictions of neoclassical theory: spillovers may actually lead to increases in the production of new knowledge.

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Paper provided by University of Connecticut, Department of Economics in its series Working papers with number 1996-06.

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Length: 34 pages
Date of creation: Aug 1996
Handle: RePEc:uct:uconnp:1996-06
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