Agglomeration and product innovation in China
Hongyong Zhang 21 July 2014
The Chinese government has been actively promoting innovation via policies such as R&D subsidies, tax relief, and location policies. Since 1995, central and local governments have established more than 100 clusters in over 60 cities. This column presents new evidence on the effect of the concentration of firms on product innovation (new products) in the manufacturing industries.
Spatial agglomeration of economic activities is generally assumed to improve productivity and spur firms’ innovation through localisation economies and urbanisation economies.1 There is an extensive empirical literature investigating the effects of localisation and urbanisation on firm-level productivity. Despite its economic importance, there are few empirical studies focusing on agglomeration and product innovation. Feldman and Audretsch (1999) and De Beule and Van Beveren (2010) are two of the few exceptions.
Productivity and Innovation
R&D, productivity, China, spatial concentration, innovation, subsidies, clusters, agglomeration
Protection of intellectual property to foster innovations in the service sector
Masayuki Morikawa 20 July 2014
Innovation is a key driver of productivity growth, but innovation in the service sector has received relatively little attention. This column shows that the total factor productivity gap between Japanese firms with and without innovations is larger in services than in manufacturing. Whereas the percentage of firms holding patents is much higher in manufacturing than in services, trade secrets are just as important in both sectors. These results suggest that the protection of trade secrets makes an important contribution to productivity growth.
Given the declining labour force due to population ageing, accelerating the productivity growth of industries – especially the service industries – is an important element of the growth strategy in Japan and most advanced countries. While there are a variety of factors affecting productivity, innovation is one of the key determinants of productivity growth. However, innovation in the service sector has not been studied well. I present findings on innovation in the service sector by focusing on the effect of intellectual property rights on innovation.
Productivity and Innovation
R&D, growth, productivity, patents, Japan, innovation, services, intellectual property, trade secrets
R&D internationalisation during the Global Crisis
Bernhard Dachs, Georg Zahradnik 06 July 2014
The Global Crisis brought a halt to three decades of R&D internationalisation, in which foreign firms’ share of total R&D expenditure had increased in almost all countries where data is available. However, this column argues that the crisis did not lead to a new global distribution of overseas R&D expenditure, despite the erosion of the EU’s share. The persistence of R&D expenditure is attributed to the costs of relocating R&D and to the autonomy of foreign subsidiaries.
Foreign firms’ share of total business R&D expenditure increased during the last three decades in almost all countries where data is available, but this trend stopped with the Global Crisis of 2008–2009. In most countries, R&D of foreign firms was more severely affected by the crisis than R&D of domestic firms. However, the crisis did not lead to a new global distribution of overseas R&D expenditure.
Global crisis Productivity and Innovation
R&D, globalisation, multinationals, FDI, innovation, global crisis, persistence, autonomy, subsidiaries
DynEmp: New cross-country evidence on the role of young firms in job creation, growth, and innovation
Chiara Criscuolo, Peter N. Gal, Carlo Menon 26 May 2014
Young firms are known to play a central role in job creation. This column presents the results of a new OECD project on the dynamics of employment (DynEmp) based on an innovative methodology using firm-level data. It confirms that young firms play a central role in creating jobs, and in enhancing growth and innovation. Public policies can help by enabling firms to experiment, and by fostering the reallocation of resources towards the most productive firms. Structural reforms to product, labour, and capital markets, as well as bankruptcy laws that do not overly penalise failure, are particularly relevant.
Since well before the crisis, many OECD economies have been confronted with sluggish productivity growth. In the aftermath of the crisis, job creation has also stalled and has become an important policy issue. Business dynamics are at the core of the creative destruction process. Available evidence points to significant cross-country heterogeneity in the dynamism of businesses, even after taking into account differences in sectoral composition. This raises policymakers’ interest in understanding the role of framework conditions in this area.
Labour markets Productivity and Innovation
R&D, employment, growth, OECD, job creation, business cycles, firms, start-ups
US university science: The shopping mall model
Paula Stephan 20 March 2014
US universities resemble high-end shopping malls. They use nice buildings and good reputations to attract good students and good faculty. To pay for this, external funding – once viewed as a luxury – is a necessary condition for tenure and promotion. This column argues that this model emerged at the initiative of universities not the federal government. Today’s stress is the harvest of what universities and faculty sowed in the 1950s and the 1960s.
Universities have relied heavily on federal funds for research for many years. Yet, since 2005, federal funds have been flat in real terms, with the exception of funds received through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). More importantly, the hope for a substantial increase in federal funds is dim.
Education Productivity and Innovation
R&D, Universities, external funding
The economic impact of inward FDI on the US
Theodore H. Moran, Lindsay Oldenski 04 March 2014
The US has once again ranked among the top two recipient countries for foreign direct investment. This column examines the effects of these large FDI inflows on the US domestic economy. Foreign multinationals are – alongside US-headquartered American multinationals – the most productive and highest-paying segment of the US economy. In addition, they provide positive spillovers to US firms. About 12% of the total productivity growth in the US from 1987 to 2007 can be attributed to productivity spillovers from inward FDI.
The US is the second-largest recipient of FDI in the world, behind China, and by far the largest target for FDI among OECD countries (OECD 2013). The numbers are large ($253 billion for the US), and the gap with the next-largest in the OECD is impressive ($63 billion for the UK and $62 billion for France in 2012).
Productivity and Innovation
R&D, US, productivity, wages, multinationals, FDI, spillovers
Nuclear expansion or phase-out? Costs and opportunities
Enrica De Cian, Samuel Carrara, Massimo Tavoni 22 December 2013
After the Fukushima incident in 2011, many countries decided to shrink their nuclear power programmes. This article presents recent research on the optimal role of nuclear power in reducing carbon emissions. Phasing out nuclear power would be costly, since it is currently the cheapest low-carbon alternative to fossil fuels. However, these costs would be largely offset by the implicit subsidy to R&D in renewables, which suffers from innovation externalities. Still, carbon pricing and explicit R&D subsidies would be a more efficient way of determining the future of nuclear power.
"We learned from Fukushima that we have to deal differently with risks… We believe we as a country can be a trailblazer for a new age of renewable energy sources… We can be the first major industrialized country that achieves the transition to renewable energy with all the opportunities – for exports, development, technology, jobs – it carries with it.” Angela Merkel (distinct quotes).
R&D, energy, climate change, environment, climate policy, carbon pricing, energy mix, nuclear power
Do multinationals that expand abroad invest less at home?
Theodore H. Moran, Lindsay Oldenski 31 October 2013
Criticism of 'offshoring' by US multinationals is widespread among politicians. The underlying assumption is that multinational corporations substitute domestic economic activity for foreign. This column presents evidence that foreign and domestic investment go hand-in-hand at the firm level. This suggests that policies penalising firms for investing abroad will hurt, rather than help, the US economy.
There is a long history of politicians accusing US MNCs of “shipping jobs overseas” when they invest outside the US. President Obama, for example, has proposed special support for US firms that stay at home, and criticised those that move abroad (State of the Union speech 2012). This line of attack implicitly assumes that expansion abroad by US firms substitutes for domestic expansion, harming US workers. It is equally possible that foreign expansion increases the productivity and market share of firms in a way that benefits US workers.
Industrial organisation International trade
Offshoring and its effects on innovation in emerging economies
Ursula Fritsch, Holger Görg 23 September 2013
Outsourcing is a controversial practice. This column looks at its effects on firm-level innovation in emerging markets. The authors find robust evidence that outsourcing is positively related to various innovation measures. However, outsourcing only leads to increased R&D spending in countries where intellectual-property rights are well-protected.
Most empirical studies of the impact of outsourcing on firms look at industrialised countries. However, outsourcing is also common in emerging economies, and firms in middle-income countries split up their production processes similarly to firms in developed countries (see figures in Miroudot et al. (2009) on trade in intermediates). Recent research analyses the benefits to firms from outsourcing, focusing mainly on productivity and innovation effects. The latter are particularly important, since innovation is a key determinant of productivity improvements and – ultimately – growth.
International trade Productivity and Innovation
R&D, offshoring, innovation, international trade, emerging markets, outsourcing, technology transfer
Does offshoring hurt domestic innovation activities?
Bernhard Dachs, Bernd Ebersberger, Steffen Kinkel, Oliver Som 07 September 2013
European offshoring mostly concerns factory jobs, but some worry that innovation will soon follow. This column shows that offshoring firms employ more people in R&D and design, introduce more frequently new products, and invest more frequently in advanced process technologies compared to non-offshoring firms. Concerns that offshoring may hurt innovation because of the lost links between production and product development are not supported by the evidence.
Offshoring of production activities has been a topic of economic policy debates for at least the last decade. A central issue in these debates are the economic effects of offshoring on firms in the home country. Most contributions investigated the effects of offshoring on output, employment or skills (see the surveys of Lipsey 2002, Olsen 2006, Crinò 2009) and find a complementary relationship between foreign and domestic economic activity, at least in the long run.
Productivity and Innovation
R&D, Labour Markets, offshoring