Firm R&D, Absorptive Capacity and Learning by Exporting: Firm-level Evidence from China


We thank Zhiyuan Li for his helpful comments. We thank the editor, Dr. Zhihong Yu, and two anonymous referees for their very helpful suggestions. Financial support from China’s Natural Science Foundation for Young Economists (No. 71003010) is gratefully acknowledged. However, all errors are ours. Corresponding author: Miaojie Yu.


The absorptive capacity of firms developed through R&D promotes learning by exporting. In this paper, we estimate the instantaneous and long-run productivity effects of exporting on the universe of Chinese manufacturing firms. We find that exporting has very different productivity effects for firms with different pre-export R&D status. It has large and lasting productivity effects for firms with pre-export R&D, while it has little effects for firms without pre-export R&D. Furthermore, the effect of exporting increases with the number of years of pre-export R&D investment.