IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Login to save this paper or follow this series

Competition, imitation, and technical change : quality vs. variety

  • Cusolito, Ana
Registered author(s):

    Some researchers have documented that the path of development is remarkably related to the pattern of sectoral diversification. Others have highlighted the relation between productive specialization and economic progress. This paper explores the role of product market competition and intellectual property rights protection in the pattern of sectoral diversification. The paper confirms the insight of the innovation literature, that competition induces firms to specialize and upgrade the quality of existing goods. However, it reveals a new force, called the imitation effect, through which competition biases technical change toward product diversification. The paper shows that if knowledge spillovers increase with imitation, or the degree of product substitution is high, weak protection of property rights encourages firms to create low-quality goods, thereby directing technical change toward diversification. The predictions are tested with data on Italian firms'innovation activity. They are found to be consistent with observed behavior.

    If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    Paper provided by The World Bank in its series Policy Research Working Paper Series with number 4997.

    in new window

    Date of creation: 01 Jul 2009
    Date of revision:
    Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:4997
    Contact details of provider: Postal: 1818 H Street, N.W., Washington, DC 20433
    Phone: (202) 477-1234
    Web page:

    More information through EDIRC

    References listed on IDEAS
    Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

    as in new window
    1. Philippe Aghion & Nick Bloom & Richard Blundell & Rachel Griffith & Peter Howitt, 2005. "Competition and Innovation: An Inverted-U Relationship," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 120(2), pages 701-728, May.
    2. Eric J. Bartelsman & Wayne Gray, 1996. "The NBER Manufacturing Productivity Database," NBER Technical Working Papers 0205, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Acemoglu, Daron, 2002. "Directed Technical Change," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 69(4), pages 781-809, October.
    4. George Symeonidis, 2002. "Comparing Cournot and Bertrand Equilibria in a Differentiated Duopoly with Product R&D," Economics Discussion Papers 539, University of Essex, Department of Economics.
    5. Stephen Nickell, 1993. "Competition and Corporate Performance," CEP Discussion Papers dp0182, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
    6. David Hummels & Peter J. Klenow, 2005. "The Variety and Quality of a Nation's Exports," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(3), pages 704-723, June.
    7. Richard Blundell & Rachel Griffith & John Van Reenen, 1994. "Dynamic count data models of technological innovation," IFS Working Papers W94/10, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
    8. Amit Khandelwal, 2010. "The Long and Short (of) Quality Ladders," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 77(4), pages 1450-1476.
    9. repec:oup:qjecon:v:120:y:2005:i:2:p:701-728 is not listed on IDEAS
    10. James E. Rauch, 1996. "Networks versus Markets in International Trade," NBER Working Papers 5617, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    11. Juan Carlos Hallak & Peter K. Schott, 2008. "Estimating Cross-Country Differences in Product Quality," NBER Working Papers 13807, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    12. Helpman, E., 1992. "Innovation, Imitation and intellectual Property Rights," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1597, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
    13. Paul Segerstrom & Elias Dinopoulos, 2004. "A Theory of North-South Trade and Globalization," 2004 Meeting Papers 30, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    14. Bruno Cassiman & Reinhilde Veugelers, 2006. "In Search of Complementarity in Innovation Strategy: Internal R& D and External Knowledge Acquisition," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 52(1), pages 68-82, January.
    15. Yang, Guifang & Maskus, Keith E., 2001. "Intellectual property rights, licensing, and innovation in an endogenous product-cycle model," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 53(1), pages 169-187, February.
    16. Saint-Paul, G., 1990. "Technological Choice, Financial Markets and Economic Development," DELTA Working Papers 90-30, DELTA (Ecole normale supérieure).
    17. Wacziarg, Romain & Imbs, Jean, 2000. "Stages of Diversification," Research Papers 1653, Stanford University, Graduate School of Business.
    18. Milgrom, Paul & Roberts, John, 1995. "Complementarities and fit strategy, structure, and organizational change in manufacturing," Journal of Accounting and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 19(2-3), pages 179-208, April.
    19. Andrew B. Bernard & J. Bradford Jensen, 2001. "Why Some Firms Export," NBER Working Papers 8349, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    20. Hall, Bronwyn H & Jaffe, Adam B & Trajtenberg, Manuel, 2001. "The NBER Patent Citations Data File: Lessons, Insights and Methodological Tools," CEPR Discussion Papers 3094, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    21. Motta, Massimo, 1993. "Endogenous Quality Choice: Price vs. Quantity Competition," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 41(2), pages 113-31, June.
    22. Vives, Xavier, 2005. "Innovation and Competitive Pressure," Department of Economics, Working Paper Series qt1s1059vr, Department of Economics, Institute for Business and Economic Research, UC Berkeley.
    23. repec:oup:qjecon:v:121:y:2006:i:2:p:541-585 is not listed on IDEAS
    24. Shaked, Avner & Sutton, John, 1987. "Product Differentiation and Industrial Structure," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 36(2), pages 131-46, December.
    25. Lai, Edwin L. -C., 1998. "International intellectual property rights protection and the rate of product innovation," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 55(1), pages 133-153, February.
    26. Sutton, John, 1996. "Technology and market structure," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 40(3-5), pages 511-530, April.
    27. Aghion, Philippe & Harris, Christopher & Vickers, John, 1997. "Competition and growth with step-by-step innovation: An example," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 41(3-5), pages 771-782, April.
    28. Dasgupta, Partha & Stiglitz, Joseph, 1980. "Industrial Structure and the Nature of Innovative Activity," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 90(358), pages 266-93, June.
    29. Paul M Romer, 1999. "Endogenous Technological Change," Levine's Working Paper Archive 2135, David K. Levine.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

    When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:4997. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Roula I. Yazigi)

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

    If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.