Labour mobility through business visits as a way to foster productivity

Mariacristina Piva, Massimiliano Tani & Marco Vivarelli

#2017-004

The aim of this paper is to investigate the productivity impact of business visits, relative to traditional drivers of productivity enhancement, namely capital formation and R&D. To carry out the analysis, we combine unique and novel data on business visits sourced from the U.S. National Business Travel Association with OECD data on R&D and capital formation. The resulting unbalanced panel covers on average 16 sectors per year in 10 countries during the period 1998-2011 (2,262 observations). Our results suggest that mobility through business visits is an effective mechanism to improve productivity. The estimated effect is about half as large as investing in R&D, supporting viewing business visits as a form of long-term investment rather than pure consumption expenditure. In a nutshell, our outcomes support the need to recognise the private and social value of business mobility.

JEL Classification: O33

Keywords: Business visits, labour mobility, knowledge, R&D, productivity