The Impact of R&D Spillovers on Export Value: Does the Transmission Channel matter?

There is overwhelming evidence in the literature that open economies benefit from spillover effects from foreign R&D efforts. These effects increase in particular total factor productivity. Several transmission channels have been detected and studied intensively. Most of them are related to foreign direct investments or international trade. These real economic phenomena are themselves affected by spillovers, either indirectly through their effect on total factor productivity or directly through, for example, increased business contacts between investors, traders and producers.  In this empirical paper we study the effects of R&D spillovers on exports within the OECD. Previous evidence pointed to the crucial role of the transmission channel for such spillovers. Therefore we distinguish between trade-related and foreign-direct-investment related channels and indicators. By doing so we are able to determine the relevance and importance of each of the suggested channels and measures. We control for alternative determinants of export value by extending the well-accepted gravity model for international trade by incorporating R&D spillovers in the standard gravity specification. Our results indicate that – at least at the macro-level – the choice of the transmission channel matters. In particular we find clear evidence that imports are an important transmission channel for technological spillovers, whereas there is only weak evidence in favour of any role for foreign direct investments. Hence these findings simply that openness to trade is a better policy in order to benefit from foreign knowledge than openness to investments.

Author: Jan, Van Hove
Volume: 2008.3
Publisher: INFER
Year: 2008
No. of pages: 34
Working papers