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Exporting, R&D, and absorptive capacity in UK establishments

Harris, Richard and Li, Qian Cher (2009) Exporting, R&D, and absorptive capacity in UK establishments. Oxford Economic Papers, 61 (1). pp. 74-103. ISSN 0030-7653

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This paper models the determinants of exporting (both in terms of export propensity and export intensity), with a particular emphasis on the importance of absorptive capacity and the endogenous link between exporting and undertaking R&D. Based on a merged dataset of the 2001 Community Innovation Survey and the 2000 Annual Respondents Database for the UK, our results suggest that establishment size plays a fundamental role in explaining exporting. Meanwhile, alongside other factors, undertaking R&D activities and having greater absorptive capacity (for scientific knowledge, international co-operation, and organizational structure) significantly reduce entry barriers into export markets, having controlled for self-selectivity into exporting. Nevertheless, conditional on entry into international markets, only greater absorptive capacity (associated with scientific knowledge) seems to further boost export performance in such markets, whereas spending on R&D no longer has an impact on exporting behaviour once we have taken into account its endogenous nature.