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The contribution of business services to aggregate productivity growth

  • Henk L.M. Kox

In most OECD countries, the business services industry has grown much faster than the market sector as a whole. The industry in most cases, however, has displayed stagnating productivity growth, in some periods even a fall in productivity. Does this fast-growing industry with a bad productivity record present a threat to aggregate productivity growth and, hence, to future economic growth? Reviewing existing empirical evidence, the paper argues that this concern need not be valid. The business services industry has an important role in the national innovation system and in knowledge spillovers to other industries. The innovation contribution of business services to the rest of the economy may countervail the effect of its own stagnating productivity growth. Moreover, the industry has not yet exhausted opportunities for tackling existing X-inefficiencies. The paper further sketches some policy options for improving the productivity record of business services, and for strengthening its role in knowledge spillovers to client industries.

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File URL: http://econwpa.repec.org/eps/io/papers/0402/0402005.pdf
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Paper provided by EconWPA in its series Industrial Organization with number 0402005.

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Length: 20 pages
Date of creation: 26 Feb 2004
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:wpa:wuwpio:0402005
Note: Type of Document - pdf; prepared on windows; pages: 20; figures: 6. pre-publication version of chapter in Gelauff et al., Fostering Productivity
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://econwpa.repec.org

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  1. Oulton, Nicholas, 2001. "Must the Growth Rate Decline? Baumol's Unbalanced Growth Revisited," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 53(4), pages 605-27, October.
  2. Mohnen, Pierre & Rosa, Julio, 2001. "Les obstacles à l’innovation dans les industries de services au Canada," L'Actualité Economique, Société Canadienne de Science Economique, vol. 77(2), pages 231-254, juin.
  3. Egger, Peter & Pfaffermayr, Michael & Weber, Andrea, 2003. "Sectoral Adjustment of Employment: The Impact of Outsourcing and Trade at the Micro Level," Economics Series 145, Institute for Advanced Studies.
  4. Nicolai J. Foss, 1999. "The Use of Knowledge in Firms," Journal of Institutional and Theoretical Economics (JITE), Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen, vol. 155(3), pages 458-, September.
  5. Anita Wölfl, 2003. "Productivity Growth in Service Industries: An Assessment of Recent Patterns and the Role of Measurement," OECD Science, Technology and Industry Working Papers 2003/7, OECD Publishing.
  6. Antonelli, Cristiano, 2001. "The Microeconomics of Technological Systems," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780199245536, March.
  7. Fixler, Dennis J. & Siegel, Donald, 1999. "Outsourcing and productivity growth in services," Structural Change and Economic Dynamics, Elsevier, vol. 10(2), pages 177-194, June.
  8. Baumol, William J, 1972. "Macroeconomics of Unbalanced Growth: Reply," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 62(1), pages 150, March.
  9. Gellatly, Guy, 2000. "Differences in Innovator and Non-innovator Profiles: Small Establishments in Business Services," Analytical Studies Branch Research Paper Series 2000143e, Statistics Canada, Analytical Studies Branch.
  10. Henk Kox, 2002. "Growth challenges for the Dutch business services industry; international comparison and policy issues," CPB Special Publication 40, CPB Netherlands Bureau for Economic Policy Analysis.
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