NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

International R&D Spillovers: A Re-Examination

Frank Lichtenberg, Bruno van Pottelsberghe de la Potterie

NBER Working Paper No. 5668
Issued in July 1996
NBER Program(s):   PR

Coe and Helpman(1995) have measured the extent to which technology spills over between industrialized countries through the particular channel of trade flows. This paper re-examines two particular features of their study. First, we suggest that their functional form of how foreign R&D affects domestic productivity via imports is probably incorrect. We provide an alternative model which turns out to be more accurate, both theoretically and empirically. Second, we take into account two new potential channels of technology transfer: inward FDI and technology sourcing, as proxied by outward FDI. The empirical results show that outward FDI flows and imports flows are two simultaneous channels through which technology is internationally diffused. Inward FDI flows are not a significant channel of technology transfer. The hypothesis of technology sourcing associated with MNEs activities abroad is therefore confirmed while the widespread belief that inward FDI is a major channel of technology transfer is rejected.

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Published: Published as "International R&D Spillovers: A Comment", European Economic Review, Vol. 42, no. 8 (September 1998): 1483-1491.

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