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R&D and productivity in the US and the EU: Sectoral specificities and differences in the crisis

: Castellani, Davide; Piva, Mariacristina; Schubert, Torben; Vivarelli, Marco

Fulltext urn:nbn:de:0011-n-5183591 (585 KByte PDF)
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Created on: 9.11.2018

Technological forecasting and social change 138 (2019), pp.279-291
ISSN: 0040-1625
Journal Article, Electronic Publication
Fraunhofer ISI ()
R&D; productivity; economic crisis; US; EU

Using data on the US and EU top R&D spenders from 2004 until 2012, this paper investigates the sources of the US/EU productivity gap. We find robust evidence that US firms have a higher capacity to translate R&D into productivity gains (especially in the high-tech macro sector), and this contributes to explaining the higher productivity of US firms. Conversely, EU firms are more likely to achieve productivity gains through capital-embodied technological change, at least in the medium- and low-tech macro sectors. Our results also show that the US/EU productivity gap has worsened during the crisis period, as the EU companies have been more affected by the economic crisis in their capacity to translate R&D investments into productivity. Based on these findings, we make a case for a learning-based and selective R&D funding, which, instead of purely aiming at stimulating higher R&D expenditures, works on improving the firms' capabilities to transform R&D into productivity gains.