Local Knowledge Spillovers, Innovation and Economic Performance in Developing Countries: A discussion of alternative specifications

E. Kesidou & Adam Szirmai


This paper examines the importance of local knowledge spillovers for the innovative and economic performance of firms in a developing country context. Theoretical and empirical studies in advanced economies underline the significance of local knowledge spillovers for innovation. However, not much is known about whether local knowledge spillovers work similarly in developing countries. This analysis is based on an original innovation survey in the software industry in Uruguay. The survey focuses on the direct identification and measurement of local knowledge spillovers; pure knowledge spillovers are distinguished from commercial knowledge transactions. Both knowledge spillovers and knowledge transactions are measured at the local and at the international level. The study concludes that local knowledge spillovers play a crucial role in enhancing the innovative performance of software firms in Uruguay. However, for the economic performance of the firms, international knowledge transactions turn out to be more important than local knowledge spillovers. Local Knowledge Spillovers may be essential for innovation, but not sufficient for economic success. Firms in developing countries need to be connected to both the local and the international economy.

Keywords: local knowledge spillovers, innovation, economic performance, developing economies

JEL Codes: L86 (Information and Internet Services, Computer Software), O31 (Innovation and Invention); O33 (Technological change: Choices and Consequences; Diffusion Processes)

UNU-MERIT Working Papers ISSN 1871-9872