An Investigation of Firm-Level R&D Capabilities in East Asia
This paper uses a survey of 1,826 firms distributed over ten East Asian metropolitan areas – Jakarta, Kuala Lumpur, Manila, Seoul, and five Chinese cities – to investigate the sources of firm-level R&D capabilities. The analysis identifies the impact of 23 survey variables, classified by openness, human capital, R&D network, and institutional quality, on the efficiency of firm R&D operations and on overall firm performance. These firmlevel results are used to construct composite measures R&D capabilities for each of the 10 metropolitan economies. Using the firm samples, returns to R&D are also estimated for each of the metropolitan areas. Where cross economy comparisons are possible, as they are for Seoul and the five Chinese cities, we find a strong association between overall R&D productivity in these city economies and the composite measures of citywide R&D capabilities. In particular, high composite measures in Seoul and Shanghai are associated with high returns to R&D in those cities. The large productivitywage gaps in the Chinese cities appear to be attracting large and visible investment in R&D operations. Whether R&D wages rise to narrow this gap or investment and technology flows continue to sustain the gap will substantially affect the pattern of R&D operations within the Asian region.
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