Distance to Frontier, Selection, and Economic Growth
NBER Working Paper No. 9066
We analyze an economy where managers engage both in the adaptation of technologies from the world frontier and in innovation activities. The selection of high-skill managers is more important for innovation activities. As the economy approaches the technology frontier, selection becomes more important. As a result, countires at early stages of development pursue an investment-based strategy, with long term relationships, high average size and age of firms, large average investments, but little selection. Closer to the world technology frontier, there is a switch to innovation-based strategy with short-term relationships, younger firms, less investment and better selection of managers. We show that relatively backward economies may switch out of the investment-based strategy too soon, so certain economic institutions and policies, such as limits on product market competition or investment subsidies, that encourage the investment-based strategy may be beneficial. However, societies that cannot switch out of the investment-based strategy fail to converge to the world technology frontier. Non-convergence traps are more likely when policies and institutions are endogenized, enabling beneficiaries of existing policies to bribe politicians to maintain these policies.
Published: Daron Acemoglu & Philippe Aghion & Fabrizio Zilibotti, 2006. "Distance to Frontier, Selection, and Economic Growth," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 4(1), pages 37-74, 03.