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

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  • Castellani, Davide
  • Piva, Mariacristina
  • Schubert, Torben
  • Vivarelli, Marco

Abstract

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.

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  • Castellani, Davide & Piva, Mariacristina & Schubert, Torben & Vivarelli, Marco, 2019. "R&D and productivity in the US and the EU: Sectoral specificities and differences in the crisis," Technological Forecasting and Social Change, Elsevier, vol. 138(C), pages 279-291.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:tefoso:v:138:y:2019:i:c:p:279-291
    DOI: 10.1016/j.techfore.2018.10.001
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    Cited by:

    1. Castellani, Davide & Montresor, Sandro & Schubert, Torben & Vezzani, Antonio, 2017. "Multinationality, R&D and productivity: Evidence from the top R&D investors worldwide," International Business Review, Elsevier, vol. 26(3), pages 405-416.
    2. Gordon, Robert J & Sayed, Hassan, 2019. "The Industry Anatomy of the Transatlantic Productivity Growth Slowdown," CEPR Discussion Papers 13751, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    3. Robert J. Gordon & Hassan Sayed, 2020. "Transatlantic Technologies: The Role of ICT in the Evolution of U.S. and European Productivity Growth," NBER Working Papers 27425, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

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    Keywords

    R&D; Productivity; Economic crisis; US; EU;

    JEL classification:

    • O33 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Technological Change: Choices and Consequences; Diffusion Processes
    • O51 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economywide Country Studies - - - U.S.; Canada
    • O52 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economywide Country Studies - - - Europe

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