Chapter 6: Learning by Exporting
* INTRODUCTION This and the following chapters test a number of formal hypotheses, considering both the individual and combined eﬀects of exporting and a ﬁrm’s idiosyncratic ability to absorb and assimilate knowledge on innovative outcomes. The objective is to gain insight into the eﬀect of exporting on ﬁrms’ innovative productivity. The basic assertion is that foreign market contact provides exporting ﬁrms with exposure to external knowledge inputs that domestic ﬁrms lack and that these inputs inform innovative output. This chapter speciﬁcally addresses the main eﬀect of exporting on innovation to assess whether ﬁrms learn by exporting. I then condition the analysis to examine the combined eﬀect of exporting and ﬁrm-speciﬁc competences (for example, absorptive capacity) on ﬁrms’ innovative outcomes. Subsequent chapters systematically explore the individual sources from which exporters may derive knowledge-based advantages. 6.2 FOREIGN MARKET CONTACT Scholars have long argued that externally acquired knowledge may drive innovation (for example, von Hippel, 1988). In fact, von Hippel (1988) suggests that ﬁrms that reach outside their boundaries for knowledge perform more eﬀectively. To be sure, existing research suggests that under certain conditions ﬁrms engaging in FDI may acquire technologies, technological skills and other capabilities by investing abroad (for example, Kogut and Chang, 1991; Almeida, 1996; Penner-Hahn and Shaver, 1999). However, we know very little about whether ﬁrms can absorb knowledge outside their national boundaries without making such cross-border investments. With regard to exporting, Grossman and Helpman (1991, 1993) have argued that trade may expose the...
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