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A novel approach to national technological accumulation and absorptive capacity: Aggregating Cohen and Levinthal

  • Narula Rajneesh
  • Criscuolo Paola

    (MERIT)

The paper develops a more precise specification and understanding of the process of national-levelknowledge accumulation and absorptive capabilities by applying the reasoning and evidence from the firm-levelanalysis pioneered by Cohen and Levinthal (1989, 1990). In doing so, we acknowledge that significant cross-bordereffects due to the role of both inward and outward FDI exist and that assimilation of foreign knowledge is not onlyconfined to catching-up economies but is also carried out by countries at the frontier-sharing phase. We postulate anon-linear relationship between national absorptive capacity and the technological gap, due to the effects of thecumulative nature of the learning process and the increase complexity of external knowledge as the country approachesthe technological frontier. We argue that national absorptive capacity and the accumulation of knowledge stock aresimultaneously determined. This implies that different phases of technological development require different strategies.During the catching-up phase, knowledge accumulation occurs predominately through the absorption of trade and/orinward FDI-related R&D spillovers. At the pre-frontier-sharing phase onwards, increases in the knowledge base occurlargely through independent knowledge creation and actively accessing foreign-located technological spillovers, interalia through outward FDI-related R&D, joint ventures and strategic alliances.

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Paper provided by Maastricht University, Maastricht Economic Research Institute on Innovation and Technology (MERIT) in its series Research Memorandum with number 018.

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Date of creation: 2002
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Handle: RePEc:unm:umamer:2002018
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  1. Jaffe, Adam B & Trajtenberg, Manuel & Henderson, Rebecca, 1993. "Geographic Localization of Knowledge Spillovers as Evidenced by Patent Citations," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 108(3), pages 577-98, August.
  2. Bart Verspagen, 1997. "Estimating international technology spillovers using technology flow matrices," Review of World Economics (Weltwirtschaftliches Archiv), Springer, vol. 133(2), pages 226-248, 06.
  3. Lall, Sanjaya, 1992. "Technological capabilities and industrialization," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 20(2), pages 165-186, February.
  4. Bart Verspagen & Marjolein C.J. Cani, ls, 2001. "Barriers to knowledge spillovers and regional convergence in an evolutionary model," Journal of Evolutionary Economics, Springer, vol. 11(3), pages 307-329.
  5. Caves, Richard E, 1974. "Multinational Firms, Competition, and Productivity in Host-Country Markets," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 41(162), pages 176-93, May.
  6. Bruno Van Pottelsberghe De La Potterie & Frank Lichtenberg, 2001. "Does Foreign Direct Investment Transfer Technology Across Borders?," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 83(3), pages 490-497, August.
  7. David T. Coe & Elhanan Helpman & Alexander Hoffmaister, 1995. "North-South R&D Spillovers," NBER Working Papers 5048, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. 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.
  9. Romer, Paul, 1993. "Idea gaps and object gaps in economic development," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 32(3), pages 543-573, December.
  10. Reddy, N. Mohan & Zhao, Liming, 1990. "International technology transfer: A review," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 19(4), pages 285-307, August.
  11. Ann E. Harrison & Brian J. Aitken, 1999. "Do Domestic Firms Benefit from Direct Foreign Investment? Evidence from Venezuela," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(3), pages 605-618, June.
  12. Glass, Amy Jocelyn & Saggi, Kamal, 1998. "International technology transfer and the technology gap," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 55(2), pages 369-398, April.
  13. Paul Romer, 1989. "Endogenous Technological Change," NBER Working Papers 3210, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. Wolfgang Becker & Juergen Peters, 2000. "Technological Opportunities, Absorptive Capacities, and Innovation," Discussion Paper Series 195, Universitaet Augsburg, Institute for Economics.
  15. 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.
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