NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Quality Ladders and Product Cycles

Gene M. Grossman, Elhanan Helpman

NBER Working Paper No. 3201
Issued in December 1989
NBER Program(s):   EFG   ITI   IFM

We develop a two-country model of endogenous innovation and imitation in order to study the interactions between these two processes. Firms in the North race to bring out the next generation of a set of technology-intensive products. Each product potentially can be improved a countably infinite number of times, but quality improvements require the investment of resources and entail uncertain prospects of success. In the South, entrepreneurs invest resources in order to learn the production processes that have been developed in the North. All R&D investment decisions are made by forward looking, profit maximizing entrepreneurs. The steady-state equilibrium is characterized by constant aggregate rates of innovation and imitation. We study how these rates respond to changes in the sizes of the two regions and to policies in each region to promote learning.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w3201

Published: Quarterly Journal of Economics, 106(2), May 1991, pp. 557-586

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