Published 03 November 2009

Do Firms Learn by Exporting or Learn to Export?

Evidence from Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (SMEs) in Swedish Manufacturing

Using a matching approach, we compare the productivity trajectories of future exporters and matched and unmatched non-exporters.

Future exporters have higher productivity than do unmatched non-exporters before entry into the export market, which indicates self selection into exports. More interestingly, we also find a productivity increase among future exporters relative to matched non-exporters 1-2 years before entry. However, the productivity gap between future exporters and matched non-exporters does not continue to grow after export entry

Our results suggest that learning-to-export occurs but that learning-by-exporting does not. In contrast to previous studies on Swedish manufacturing, we focus particularly on small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).