How Special is the Special Relationship? Using the Impact of Us R&D Spillovers on UK Firms as a Test of Technology Sourcing

54 Pages Posted: 28 Dec 2004

See all articles by Rachel Griffith

Rachel Griffith

Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS); University of Manchester; Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

Rupert Harrison

Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS)

John Van Reenen

London School of Economics - Centre for Economic Performance (CEP); Stanford Graduate School of Business; Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS); Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

Date Written: October 2004

Abstract

How much does US-based R&D benefit other countries and through what mechanisms? We test the 'technology sourcing' hypothesis that foreign research labs located on US soil tap into US R&D spillovers and improve home country productivity. Using panels of UK and US firms matched to patent data we show that UK firms who had established a high proportion of US-based inventors by 1990 benefited disproportionately from the growth of the US R&D stock over the next 10 years. We estimate that UK firms' Total Factor Productivity would have been at least 5% lower in 2000 (about $14 bn) in the absence of the US R&D growth in the 1990s. We also find that technology sourcing is more important for countries and industries who have 'most to learn'. Within the UK, the benefits of technology sourcing were larger in industries whose TFP gap with the US was greater. Between countries, the growth of the UK R&D stock did not appear to have a major benefit for US firms who located R&D labs in the UK. The 'special relationship' between the UK and the US appears distinctly asymmetric.

Keywords: International spillovers, technology sourcing, productivity, patents, R&D

JEL Classification: F23, O32, O33

Suggested Citation

Griffith, Rachel and Harrison, Rupert and Van Reenen, John Michael, How Special is the Special Relationship? Using the Impact of Us R&D Spillovers on UK Firms as a Test of Technology Sourcing (October 2004). CEPR Discussion Paper No. 4698. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=639205

Rachel Griffith (Contact Author)

Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) ( email )

7 Ridgmount Street
London WC1E 7AE
United Kingdom
+44 20 7291 4800 (Phone)
+44 20 7323 4780 (Fax)

University of Manchester ( email )

Arthur Lewis Building
Oxford Road
Manchester, M13 9PL
United Kingdom

HOME PAGE: http://www.ifs.org.uk/people/profile?id=37

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

London
United Kingdom

Rupert Harrison

Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) ( email )

7 Ridgmount Street
London, WC1E 7AE
United Kingdom

John Michael Van Reenen

London School of Economics - Centre for Economic Performance (CEP) ( email )

Houghton Street
London WC2A 2AE
United Kingdom
+44 20 7955 6976 (Phone)
+44 20 7955 6848 (Fax)

Stanford Graduate School of Business ( email )

655 Knight Way
Stanford, CA 94305-5015
United States

Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) ( email )

7 Ridgmount Street
London, WC1E 7AE
United Kingdom
+44 20 7240 6740 (Phone)
+44 20 7240 6136 (Fax)

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

London
United Kingdom

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