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Dynamic Competences and Firm Performance

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  • A. Leiponen
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    Abstract

    This empirical study investigates the impact of competencies and knowledge capital on economic performance of firms. According to the dynamic capability approach, the profitability of firm is determined by its position in strategic capabilities. The accumulation of capabilities is proxied here by levels and fields of education, which are assumed to correlate with the rate of learning. On the other hand, successful innovation is an indirect manifestation of dynamic technological capabilities. The effects of these capability measures on profitability are estimated with a panel data-set of 209 Finnish manufacturing firms. Of special interest are the complementarities between knowledge assets, accounted for with interactions between variables. Finally, the differences in the determinants of profitability between innovating and non-innovating firms are examined, because profiting from innovation is expected to be associated with different set of skills and competencies than 'normal' business. The main findings include that educational indicators of competence are significantly associated with profitability. Interactions between different levels and fields of education turn out to have the most important effects. For example, the positive effect of post-graduate level employees is conditioned by a sufficient amount of employees with general skills acquired in higher education. This suggest there indeed exist complementarities between different types of capabilities: research skill contribute to profitability only if there are enough general competencies, which facilitate applying and commercializing the results of R&D. Interactions are also detected between innovativeness and competencies. Profitability of innovating firms seems to differ from that of non-innovating ones. In particular, educational competencies are more important for innovators. A successful 'knowledge strategy' of the firm involves simultaneous choices of investment in R&D and capabilities in different functions of the firm.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis in its series Working Papers with number ir97006.

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    Date of creation: Feb 1997
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    Handle: RePEc:wop:iasawp:ir97006

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    1. Schmalensee, Richard, 1989. "Inter-industry studies of structure and performance," Handbook of Industrial Organization, in: R. Schmalensee & R. Willig (ed.), Handbook of Industrial Organization, edition 1, volume 2, chapter 16, pages 951-1009 Elsevier.
    2. Susan Athey & Armin Schmutzler, 1995. "Product and Process Flexibility in an Innovative Environment," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 26(4), pages 557-574, Winter.
    3. Arellano, Manuel & Bond, Stephen, 1991. "Some Tests of Specification for Panel Data: Monte Carlo Evidence and an Application to Employment Equations," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 58(2), pages 277-97, April.
    4. Klepper, Steven, 1996. "Entry, Exit, Growth, and Innovation over the Product Life Cycle," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(3), pages 562-83, June.
    5. Arrow, Kenneth J., 1973. "Higher education as a filter," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 2(3), pages 193-216, July.
    6. Paul Geroski & Steve Machin & John Van Reenen, 1993. "The Profitability of Innovating Firms," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 24(2), pages 198-211, Summer.
    7. Pavitt, Keith, 1984. "Sectoral patterns of technical change: Towards a taxonomy and a theory," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 13(6), pages 343-373, December.
    8. Henderson, Rebecca., 1994. "The evolution of integrative capability : innovation in cardiovascular drug discovery," Working papers 3711-94., Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Sloan School of Management.
    9. Richard C. Levin & Alvin K. Klevorick & Richard R. Nelson & Sidney G. Winter, 1988. "Appropriating the Returns from Industrial R&D," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 862, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
    10. Cohen, Wesley M & Levinthal, Daniel A, 1989. "Innovation and Learning: The Two Faces of R&D," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 99(397), pages 569-96, September.
    11. Teece, David J., 1986. "Profiting from technological innovation: Implications for integration, collaboration, licensing and public policy," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 15(6), pages 285-305, December.
    12. Bartel, Ann P & Lichtenberg, Frank R, 1987. "The Comparative Advantage of Educated Workers in Implementing New Technology," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 69(1), pages 1-11, February.
    13. Geroski, Paul A & Jacquemin, Alexis, 1988. "The Persistence of Profits: A European Comparison," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 98(391), pages 375-89, June.
    14. Baldwin, John R. & Johnson, Joanne, 1996. "Business strategies in more- and less-innovative firms in Canada," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 25(5), pages 785-804, August.
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