Technological diffusion, the diffusion of skill and the growth of outsourcing in US manufacturing

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


What drives the observed rapid growth of outsourcing in US manufacturing? This article approaches this question by asking whether technological diffusion driven by R&D spillovers is in part responsible for the growth of atypical work arrangements in the USA. Relying on data of technological diffusion since the early 1970s, this study provides some evidence that technological factors may have contributed to the spread of outsourcing. When sample composition effects are accounted for, technological innovation reduces outsourcing in high-tech industries. Furthermore, this study highlights the importance of distinguishing between ‘rent’ and ‘pure knowledge’ spillovers. Rent spillovers are positively correlated with outsourcing, whereas pure knowledge spillovers usually decrease the incentive to outsource. Support to the technological diffusion hypothesis is also found, particularly in a sample of high-tech industries after 1980, in which rapid diffusion of IT technologies is notoriously witnessed. Alternative hypotheses are better applied to low-tech industries.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)617-647
Number of pages31
JournalEconomics of Innovation and New Technology
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 2006
Externally publishedYes


  • Outsourcing
  • Technological diffusion
  • Firm-specific human capital
  • Market-mediated employment arrangements


Dive into the research topics of 'Technological diffusion, the diffusion of skill and the growth of outsourcing in US manufacturing'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this