Robert M. Salomon and J. Myles Shaver
Empirical findings across many nations show that exporters have superior productivity compared to nonexporters and that this relationship is driven by productive firms becoming exporters. The conclusion drawn from these studies is that there is little learning from exporting. We, however, assess if there are ex post benefits that accrue to exporting firms by examining innovation outcomes. We argue that exporters can often access diverse knowledge inputs not available in the domestic market, that this knowledge can spill back to the focal firm, and that such learning can foster increased innovation. We examine product innovation and patent application counts of a representative sample of Spanish manufacturing firms from 1990 to 1997. To conduct the analysis, we use a nonlinear GMM estimator for exponential models with panel data that allows for predetermined regressors and linear feedback. We find that exporting is associated with innovation. Moreover, the panel data allow us to explore the temporal relationship between exporting and innovation. In contrast to existing findings, we find evidence of learning by exporting—albeit in dimensions not previously examined in the literature.