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Why Learning by Exporting May Not Be As Common As You Think

Tomasz Serwach
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Tomasz Serwach: University of Lodz, Poland

from International School for Social and Business Studies, Celje, Slovenia

Abstract: International trade economists almost unambiguously claim that engagement in export enables a firm to increase its productivity. They are convinced that there is a two-way relationship between productivity and exports – not only the most productive firms self-select into export markets but also exporters improve their technology due to international expansion. In spite of this optimistic view empirical studies provide only weak (if any) evidence on learning by exporting. This discrepancy between theoretical and empirical findings is usually explained by methodological problems econometricians encounter during their research. Although it may be right, there are also some theoretical reasons why one may think that learning by exporting is a wrong or highly limited hypothesis. The paper presents rationale for learning by exporting and describes drawbacks of this hypothesis aiming at highlighting limitations of firm’s ability or propensity to learn from foreign markets. Mechanisms both blocking and limiting this learning are covered.

Keywords: learning by exporting; trade and heterogeneous firms (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2012
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