Closing the Technology Gap: Does Trade Liberalization Really Help?

34 Pages Posted: 6 Apr 2004

See all articles by Dani Rodrik

Dani Rodrik

Harvard University - Harvard Kennedy School (HKS); Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR); National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Date Written: July 1988

Abstract

A common theme in discussions of trade reform is the possibility of improved technical efficiency following trade liberalization, This paper presents a conceptual analysis of the likely linkages between trade regimes and technical efficiency. Three sets of arguments, having to do with X-inefficiency, macroeconomic instability, and increasing returns to scale, are reviewed and found misleading or incomplete. A simple model of technological catch-up by a domestic firm shows the opposite of the usual argument: the larger market share provided by protection to the firm increases its incentives to invest in technological effort. When modified to include oligopolistic considerations at home, the model suggests that the incentives could go either way, depending on the mode of strategic conduct. The presence of economies of scale provides perhaps the strongest reason for productivity improvements, but here the argument relies on frictionless entry into and exit from industries. The paper concludes that the relationship between trade policy and technical efficiency is fundamentally ambiguous.

Suggested Citation

Rodrik, Dani, Closing the Technology Gap: Does Trade Liberalization Really Help? (July 1988). NBER Working Paper No. w2654. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=379265

Dani Rodrik (Contact Author)

Harvard University - Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) ( email )

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HOME PAGE: http://www.ksg.harvard.edu/rodrik/

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

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National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

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