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

Richard Harris, Qian Cher Li

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

122 Citations (Scopus)


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.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)74-103
Number of pages29
JournalOxford Economic Papers
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2009


  • firms
  • export
  • productivity
  • trade
  • performance
  • innovation

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