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Working Paper - 214 - From Productivity to Exporting or Vice Versa Evidence from Tunisian Manufacturing Sector


Enhancing the competitiveness of a country's industry is a key issue for economic growth. A bulk of literature and several empirical analyses suggest that competitiveness is closely related to firms' efficiency, to innovation activity and to global engagement. Recent empirical research on the exporting behavior of firms has established several empirical regularities. Exporting firms are known to be superior in comparison to non-exporters in terms of productivity, capital intensity, wages, and size. The productivity premium of exporting firms has received particular attention from economists, who have sought, in particular, to test the validity of two dominant hypotheses. Productive firms are likely to self-select into export markets (this is termed as self-selection). Contrastingly, exporting is an important source of knowledge accumulation improving firms' capabilities (this is termed as learning-by-exporting). It is often argued that an export-oriented strategy increases efficiency at the firm level (Krugman 1987; Rodrik 1988; Grossman and Helpman 1991).

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