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Does Firm Size make a Difference? Analysing the Effectiveness of R&D Subsidies in East Germany


  • Alecke Björn

    (Gesellschaft für Finanz- und Regionalanalysen (GEFRA) Münster,Münster, Germany)

  • Reinkowski Janina

    (Ifo Institute for Economic Research,Dresda, Germany)

  • Mitze Timo

    (RWI & Ruhr University Bochum,Bochum, Germany)

  • Untiedt Gerhard

    (GEFRA Münster & Technical- University Clausthal,Clausthal-Zellerfeld, Germany)


We analyse the impact of public subsidies on private sector research and development (R&D) activity for a sample of East German firms. Using propensity score matching, our empirical results indicate that subsidized firms indeed show a higher level of R&D intensity (R&D expenditures relative to total turnover) and a higher probability for patent application compared with non-subsidized firms. We find that, on average, the R&D intensity increases from 1.5% to 3.9%. The probability of patent application rises from 20% to 40%. These results closely match earlier empirical findings for East Germany. Given the fact that the East German innovation system is particularly driven by small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), we draw special attention to the effectiveness of R&D subsidies for this latter subgroup. Here, no specific empirical evidence is available so far. Our findings indicate that policy effectiveness also holds for private R&D activity of SMEs, with the highest increase in terms of R&D intensity being estimated for microbusinesses with up to ten employees.

Suggested Citation

  • Alecke Björn & Reinkowski Janina & Mitze Timo & Untiedt Gerhard, 2012. "Does Firm Size make a Difference? Analysing the Effectiveness of R&D Subsidies in East Germany," German Economic Review, De Gruyter, vol. 13(2), pages 174-195, May.
  • Handle: RePEc:bpj:germec:v:13:y:2012:i:2:p:174-195
    DOI: 10.1111/j.1468-0475.2011.00546.x

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    Cited by:

    1. Pelucha, Martin & Kveton, Viktor & Potluka, Oto, 2019. "Using mixed method approach in measuring effects of training in firms: Case study of the European Social Fund support," Evaluation and Program Planning, Elsevier, vol. 73(C), pages 146-155.
    2. Brautzsch, Hans-Ulrich & Günther, Jutta & Loose, Brigitte & Ludwig, Udo & Nulsch, Nicole, 2015. "Can R&D subsidies counteract the economic crisis? – Macroeconomic effects in Germany," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 44(3), pages 623-633.
    3. Dirk Czarnitzki & Julie Delanote, 2015. "R&D policies for young SMEs: input and output effects," Small Business Economics, Springer, vol. 45(3), pages 465-485, October.
    4. Jun Hong Park & Hyunseog Chung & Ki Hong Kim & Jin Ju Kim & Chulung Lee, 2021. "The Impact of Technological Capability on Financial Performance in the Semiconductor Industry," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 13(2), pages 1-20, January.
    5. Pengyuan Xu & Meiqing Zhang & Min Gui, 2020. "How R&D Financial Subsidies, Regional R&D Input, and Intellectual Property Protection Affect the Sustainable Patent Output of SMEs: Evidence from China," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 12(3), pages 1-18, February.
    6. Cantner, Uwe & Graf, Holger & Herrmann, Johannes & Kalthaus, Martin, 2016. "Inventor networks in renewable energies: The influence of the policy mix in Germany," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 45(6), pages 1165-1184.
    7. Beom Cheol Cin & Young Jun Kim & Nicholas S. Vonortas, 2017. "The impact of public R&D subsidy on small firm productivity: evidence from Korean SMEs," Small Business Economics, Springer, vol. 48(2), pages 345-360, February.
    8. Timo Mitze & Björn Alecke & Janina Reinkowski & Gerhard Untiedt, 2015. "Linking collaborative R&D strategies with the research and innovation performance of SMEs in peripheral regions: Do spatial and organizational choices make a difference?," The Annals of Regional Science, Springer;Western Regional Science Association, vol. 55(2), pages 555-596, December.
    9. Jutta Günther & Maria Kristalova & Udo Ludwig, 2019. "Structural stability of the research & development sector in European economies despite the economic crisis," Journal of Evolutionary Economics, Springer, vol. 29(5), pages 1415-1432, November.
    10. Thomas H. W. Ziesemer, 2021. "The Effects of R&D Subsidies and Publicly Performed R&D on Business R&D: A Survey," Hacienda Pública Española / Review of Public Economics, IEF, vol. 236(1), pages 171-205, March.
    11. Kou, Mingting & Yang, Yuanqi & Chen, Kaihua, 2020. "The impact of external R&D financing on innovation process from a supply-demand perspective," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 92(C), pages 375-387.
    12. David Aristei & Alessandro Sterlacchini & Francesco Venturini, 2017. "Effectiveness of R&D subsidies during the crisis: firm-level evidence across EU countries," Economics of Innovation and New Technology, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 26(6), pages 554-573, August.
    13. Stephen Roper & Helen Xia, 2014. "Innovation, innovation strategy and survival," Research Papers 0017, Enterprise Research Centre.
    14. Kiman Kim & Sang Ok Choi & Sooyeon Lee, 0. "The Effect of a Financial Support on Firm Innovation Collaboration and Output: Does Policy Work on the Diverse Nature of Firm Innovation?," Journal of the Knowledge Economy, Springer;Portland International Center for Management of Engineering and Technology (PICMET), vol. 0, pages 1-31.


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