IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

Under what conditions do firms benefit from the research efforts of other organizations?


  • Kafouros, Mario I.
  • Buckley, Peter J.


Although R&D spillovers play a key role in the battle for technological leadership, it is unclear under what conditions firms build on and benefit from the discoveries of others. The study described here empirically examines this issue. The findings indicate that, depending on technological opportunities, firm size and competitive pressure, the net impact of R&D spillovers on productivity can be either positive or negative. Specifically, we find that although spillover effects are positively associated with the technological opportunities that a firm faces, this relationship is reversed when firm size is considered. Whilst external R&D affects large self-reliant firms negatively, its impact on the productivity of smaller firms (who usually introduce incremental innovations that are characterized by a strong reliance on external technologies) is positive, and even higher than that of their own R&D. We also demonstrate that the economic payoff for firms' own R&D is lower when they face intense competition. In cases of low-appropriability, however, spillover effects are more positive, allowing firms to increase their performance using the inventions of others.

Suggested Citation

  • Kafouros, Mario I. & Buckley, Peter J., 2008. "Under what conditions do firms benefit from the research efforts of other organizations?," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 37(2), pages 225-239, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:respol:v:37:y:2008:i:2:p:225-239

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: Full text for ScienceDirect subscribers only

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to search for a different version of it.

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Bitzer, Jurgen & Geishecker, Ingo, 2006. "What drives trade-related R&D spillovers? Decomposing knowledge-diffusing trade flows," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 93(1), pages 52-57, October.
    2. Zvi Griliches, 1998. "Returns to Research and Development Expenditures in the Private Sector," NBER Chapters,in: R&D and Productivity: The Econometric Evidence, pages 49-81 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Kenneth Arrow, 1962. "Economic Welfare and the Allocation of Resources for Invention," NBER Chapters,in: The Rate and Direction of Inventive Activity: Economic and Social Factors, pages 609-626 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Jeffrey I. Bernstein, 1988. "Costs of Production, Intra- and Interindustry R&D Spillovers: Canadian Evidence," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 21(2), pages 324-347, May.
    5. Erik Brynjolfsson & Lorin M. Hitt, 2003. "Computing Productivity: Firm-Level Evidence," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 85(4), pages 793-808, November.
    6. Michele Cincera & Henri Capron, 2000. "Technological Performance," ULB Institutional Repository 2013/147109, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
    7. Hall, Bronwyn H. & Mairesse, Jacques, 1995. "Exploring the relationship between R&D and productivity in French manufacturing firms," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 65(1), pages 263-293, January.
    8. Raut, Lakshmi K., 1995. "R & D spillover and productivity growth: Evidence from Indian private firms," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 48(1), pages 1-23, October.
    9. James D. Adams & Adam B. Jaffe, 1996. "Bounding the Effects of R&D: An Investigation Using Matched Establishment-Firm Data," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 27(4), pages 700-721, Winter.
    10. Greenhalgh, Christine & Rogers, Mark, 2006. "The value of innovation: The interaction of competition, R&D and IP," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 35(4), pages 562-580, May.
    11. Zvi Griliches, 1998. "Issues in Assessing the Contribution of Research and Development to Productivity Growth," NBER Chapters,in: R&D and Productivity: The Econometric Evidence, pages 17-45 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    12. Liu, Xiaohui & Buck, Trevor, 2007. "Innovation performance and channels for international technology spillovers: Evidence from Chinese high-tech industries," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 36(3), pages 355-366, April.
    13. Scherer, F M, 1982. "Inter-Industry Technology Flows and Productivity Growth," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 64(4), pages 627-634, November.
    14. Philippe Aghion & Christopher Harris & Peter Howitt & John Vickers, 2001. "Competition, Imitation and Growth with Step-by-Step Innovation," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 68(3), pages 467-492.
    15. Kamien,Morton I. & Schwartz,Nancy L., 1982. "Market Structure and Innovation," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521293853, March.
    16. McGahan, Anita M. & Silverman, Brian S., 2006. "Profiting from technological innovation by others: The effect of competitor patenting on firm value," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 35(8), pages 1222-1242, October.
    17. Richard C. Levin & Alvin K. Klevorick & Richard R. Nelson & Sidney G. Winter, 1987. "Appropriating the Returns from Industrial Research and Development," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 18(3, Specia), pages 783-832.
    18. Ariel Pakes & Mark Schankerman, 1984. "The Rate of Obsolescence of Patents, Research Gestation Lags, and the Private Rate of Return to Research Resources," NBER Chapters,in: R&D, Patents, and Productivity, pages 73-88 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    19. Paul Stoneman & Otto Toivanen, 2001. "The Impact of Revised Recommended Accounting Practices on R&D Reporting by UK Firms," International Journal of the Economics of Business, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 8(1), pages 123-136.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. De Fuentes, Claudia & Dutrénit, Gabriela, 2011. "SMEs´ absorptive capacities and large firms´ knowledge spillovers: Micro evidence from Mexico," Papers in Innovation Studies 2011/1, Lund University, CIRCLE - Center for Innovation, Research and Competences in the Learning Economy.
    2. Wang, Chengqi & Deng, Ziliang & Kafouros, Mario I. & Chen, Yan, 2012. "Reconceptualizing the spillover effects of foreign direct investment: A process-dependent approach," International Business Review, Elsevier, vol. 21(3), pages 452-464.
    3. Kafouros, Mario & Wang, Chengqi & Piperopoulos, Panagiotis & Zhang, Mingshen, 2015. "Academic collaborations and firm innovation performance in China: The role of region-specific institutions," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 44(3), pages 803-817.
    4. repec:eee:intman:v:23:y:2017:i:3:p:326-339 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. LEE, Keun & CHOO, Kineung & Yoon, Minho, 2013. "Comparing the Productivity Impacts of Knowledge Spillovers from Network and Arm’s Length Industries:Findings from Business Groups in Korea," IIR Working Paper 13-15, Institute of Innovation Research, Hitotsubashi University.
    6. repec:wsi:ijimxx:v:21:y:2017:i:04:n:s1363919617500359 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. Kafouros, Mario I. & Buckley, Peter J. & Clegg, Jeremy, 2012. "The effects of global knowledge reservoirs on the productivity of multinational enterprises: The role of international depth and breadth," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 41(5), pages 848-861.
    8. Buckley, Peter J. & Munjal, Surender & Enderwick, Peter & Forsans, Nicolas, 2016. "The role of experiential and non-experiential knowledge in cross-border acquisitions: The case of Indian multinational enterprises," Journal of World Business, Elsevier, vol. 51(5), pages 675-685.
    9. Carlsson , Bo, 2016. "Industrial Dynamics: A Review of the Literature 1990-2009," Papers in Innovation Studies 2016/3, Lund University, CIRCLE - Center for Innovation, Research and Competences in the Learning Economy.
    10. Fu, Xiaolan & Helmers, Christian & Zhang, Jing, 2012. "The two faces of foreign management capabilities: FDI and productive efficiency in the UK retail sector," International Business Review, Elsevier, vol. 21(1), pages 71-88.
    11. Kafouros, Mario & Aliyev, Murod, 2016. "Institutional development and firm profitability in transition economies," Journal of World Business, Elsevier, vol. 51(3), pages 369-378.
    12. Wang, Chengqi & Hong, Junjie & Kafouros, Mario & Boateng, Agyenim, 2012. "What drives outward FDI of Chinese firms? Testing the explanatory power of three theoretical frameworks," International Business Review, Elsevier, vol. 21(3), pages 425-438.
    13. Pedro de Faria & Francisco Lima, 2012. "Interdependence and spillovers: is firm performance affected by others’ innovation activities?," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 44(36), pages 4765-4775, December.
    14. Degner, Harald, 2010. "Windows of technological opportunity: do technological booms influence the relationship between firm size and innovativeness?," FZID Discussion Papers 15-2010, University of Hohenheim, Center for Research on Innovation and Services (FZID).
    15. Claudia de Fuentes & Gabriela Dutrénit, 2013. "SMEs’ Absorptive Capacities and Large Firms’ Knowledge Spillovers: Micro Evidence from the Machining Industry in Mexico," Institutions and Economies (formerly known as International Journal of Institutions and Economies), Faculty of Economics and Administration, University of Malaya, vol. 5(1), pages 1-30, April.
    16. Buckley, Peter J. & Munjal, Surender & Enderwick, Peter & Forsans, Nicolas, 2016. "Do foreign resources assist or impede internationalisation? Evidence from internationalisation of Indian multinational enterprises," International Business Review, Elsevier, vol. 25(1), pages 130-140.
    17. Kafouros, Mario I. & Forsans, Nicolas, 2012. "The role of open innovation in emerging economies: Do companies profit from the scientific knowledge of others?," Journal of World Business, Elsevier, vol. 47(3), pages 362-370.
    18. Kafouros, Mario & Wang, Elizabeth Yi, 2015. "Technology transfer within China and the role of location choices," International Business Review, Elsevier, vol. 24(3), pages 353-366.
    19. Taran Thune & Pål Børing, 2015. "Industry PhD Schemes: Developing Innovation Competencies in Firms?," Journal of the Knowledge Economy, Springer;Portland International Center for Management of Engineering and Technology (PICMET), vol. 6(2), pages 385-401, June.
    20. Anne Plunket, 2009. "Firms’ inventiveness and localized vertical R&D spillovers," Journal of Innovation Economics, De Boeck Université, vol. 0(2), pages 147-170.
    21. Aldieri, Luigi, 2011. "Knowledge spillovers and productivity in Italian manufacturing firms," MPRA Paper 35018, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    22. Wang, Chengqi & Kafouros, Mario I., 2009. "What factors determine innovation performance in emerging economies? Evidence from China," International Business Review, Elsevier, vol. 18(6), pages 606-616, December.
    23. repec:spr:manint:v:55:y:2015:i:4:d:10.1007_s11575-014-0235-2 is not listed on IDEAS
    24. Aldieri, Luigi & Vinci, Concetto Paolo, 2015. "Industry Spillovers Effects on Productivity of Large International Firms," MPRA Paper 62429, University Library of Munich, Germany.

    More about this item


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:eee:respol:v:37:y:2008:i:2:p:225-239. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Dana Niculescu). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.