I develop and estimate a model of export dynamics featuring self-discovery that accounts well for new exporter dynamics: (a) continuation rates that are increasing with tenure, and (b) growth rates of export sales that are decreasing with tenure. The option value generated by the acquisition of more information is key to understanding firm dynamics as the discovery stage lasts as long as this option value is positive. I use the model to study the impact of export promotion policies that temporarily subsidize the fixed costs of exporting. These policies can result in long-lived increases in aggregate trade, but their effectiveness crucially depends on the speed of learning.
Learning Uncertainty Firm dynamics Dynamic export supply Option value