Learning from Exporting

Learning from Exporting

New Insights, New Perspectives

Robert Salomon

This book explores the relationship between exports and productivity. Whilst a body of research indicates that exporters have superior productivity to non-exporters, received wisdom suggests that this is because productive firms became exporters. Robert Salomon approaches this issue from a different angle. He argues that exporters can access diverse knowledge inputs that are not available in the domestic market, and that this knowledge can spill back to the focal firm and, through learning, can foster increased innovation. Therefore, exporting can also make firms more productive.

Chapter 8: Industry Heterogeneity in Learning by Exporting

Robert Salomon

Subjects: business and management, international business


* 8.1 INTRODUCTION The last few chapters explored whether, and how, firms can learn by exporting. I argued that firms stand to learn from exporting and from using particular export strategies. I conditioned that argument by reasoning that firms with knowledge assimilation capabilities would be in a better position to use the knowledge available in foreign markets; they would thereby benefit more from exporting to achieve greater innovative output. Although I found evidence consistent with the former claims, I did not find any systematic evidence to suggest that firms with knowledge assimilation capabilities gain disproportionately from exporting. In this chapter therefore I shift the focus up to the industry level, to see whether there are any systematic industry drivers of learning by exporting. Rather than explore whether superior firms learn more from exporting (for which I found no evidence), this chapter considers whether inferior firms (from industries in which Spain is a technological laggard) stand to benefit disproportionately from exporting. Because firms from technologically lagging industries are, on average, farther from their industry’s technological frontier (in a macro sense), contrary to my claims in previous chapters, exposure to foreign knowledge through exporting might benefit them disproportionately – resulting in a significant increase in innovation rates. The next section briefly reviews the literature on economic convergence and learning by exporting. Based on this review, I propose that firms in technologically inferior industries stand to learn more from exporting than those in technologically superior industries. The following section presents...

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