Absorptive Capacity and Technology Spillovers: A Quantile Regression Approach

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Norhanishah Mohamad Yunus


Employing a quantile regression estimator, the study presents new evidence on the role of human capital in exploiting the technology effects from foreign direct investment (FDI) in low-technology industries. A new model of human capital to capture the non-linearity of FDI effects according to employees’ educational qualifications was developed. This study examined whether workers’ absorptive capacity had different effects on FDI spillover at different points of conditional distribution. Although the study found that the ability of employees with degrees and diplomas to exploit foreign technology exceeds the median quantile, it also acknowledges the existence of both ‘over-skilled’ and ‘over-educated’ workers at a higher quantile of FDI distribution. As the problem of shortages and mismatch between skills and education for workers with degrees and diplomas still hinders firms from applying advanced technologies from FDI, this study proposes using the law to make firms work with universities. Firms could inform universities of the industry’s in-demand skills regularly and get involved in the development of the university curriculum to ensure that graduates are equipped with skills and knowledge that can be ‘transmitted’ to different industries.


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