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Diversification, innovation, and imitation inside the Global Technological Frontier

  • Klinger, Bailey
  • Lederman, Daniel

Recent research highlights the relationship between economic development and productive diversification, which may be hindered by market failures. After identifying stages of diversification in disaggregated export data, the authors develop a metric for the flows of export"discoveries,"or inside-the-frontier innovations in developing countries. They then explore the empirical relationship between economic development and (1) inside-the-frontier-innovation as reflected by the introduction of new export products, (2) export diversification measured by an index of export-revenue concentration, and (3) on-the-frontier innovation as reflected in patents. The data suggest, unsurprisingly, that inside-the-frontier innovation is more common among poor countries than among industrial economies. Overall export diversification increases at low levels of development but declines with development after a high-income point, whereas patenting activity rises exponentially with development. The data also suggest that the relationship between the frequency of export discoveries and economic development is not due to changes in the industrial composition of exports. The authors use a simple model of innovation and imitation to test the hypothesis that the threat of imitation inhibits the discovery of new exports. Econometric evidence suggests that the frequency of export discoveries across countries rises with the returns of export activities (proxied by exogenous export growth during the sample period), but the magnitude of this effect increases with barriers to entry. The count-data estimations deal with unobserved international heterogeneity, and the results are robust to various changes in the specification of the empirical model. This finding supports the hypothesisthat market failures inhibit inside-the-frontier innovation.

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Paper provided by The World Bank in its series Policy Research Working Paper Series with number 3872.

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Date of creation: 01 Apr 2006
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Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:3872
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  1. Imbs, Jean & Wacziarg, Romain, 2000. "Stages of Diversification," CEPR Discussion Papers 2642, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  2. Hausmann, Ricardo & Rodrik, Dani, 2002. "Economic Development as Self Discovery," CEPR Discussion Papers 3356, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  3. Mattias Ganslandt & James R. Markusen, 2001. "Standards and Related Regulations in International Trade: A Modeling Approach," NBER Working Papers 8346, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Blundell, Richard & Griffith, Rachel & Windmeijer, Frank, 2002. "Individual effects and dynamics in count data models," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 108(1), pages 113-131, May.
  5. Wolfgang Mayer, 1984. "The Infant-Export Industry Argument," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 17(2), pages 249-69, May.
  6. Rodrik, Dani, 2004. "Industrial Policy for the Twenty-First Century," CEPR Discussion Papers 4767, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
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