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The cross border R&D activity of italian business firms


  • Claudio Cozza
  • Antonello Zanfei


Using data from the Istat Business R&D (RS1) Survey we explore inward and outward R&D activities of different categories of firms resident in Italy in 2001-2010. From this perspective we provide detailed evidence of the role played by this country in the global creation and transmission of technology. First, foreign owned multinationals are the most active in cross-border R&D but holding a low and decreasing share. This trend confirms that the Italian economy is a poorer and poorer attractor of high value added investments from abroad, while national companies have significantly increased their R&D efforts over the past decade. Second, although outward expenditures of Italian companies increased substantially, R&D performed abroad remains a minor component of business research activities, and is due to a small number of firms investing in a few destination countries. We argue that this paucity of outward R&D activity might hinder both "asset exploiting" and "asset seeking" strategies of Italian firms. Third, we find a strong positive correlation between outward R&D and other innovative activities, including domestic research and R&D commissioned to foreign affiliates.

Suggested Citation

  • Claudio Cozza & Antonello Zanfei, 2014. "The cross border R&D activity of italian business firms," ECONOMIA E POLITICA INDUSTRIALE, FrancoAngeli Editore, vol. 2014(3), pages 39-64.
  • Handle: RePEc:fan:polipo:v:html10.3280/poli2014-003003

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    Cited by:

    1. Alessandro Sterlacchini, 2017. "The intensity of business R&D in Italy: why reducing the gap with the EU is possible and worthwhile," Economia e Politica Industriale: Journal of Industrial and Business Economics, Springer;Associazione Amici di Economia e Politica Industriale, vol. 44(2), pages 245-257, June.
    2. Nascia, Leopoldo & Pianta, Mario, 2018. "Research and innovation policy in Italy," MPRA Paper 89510, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    3. Lucchese, Matteo & Nascia, Leopoldo & Pianta, Mario, 2017. "Politica industriale e tecnologia in Italia [Industrial policy and technology in Italy]," MPRA Paper 77182, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    4. Cozza, Claudio & Franco, Chiara & Perani, Giulio, 2018. "R&D endowments at home driving R&D internationalisation: Evidence from the Italian business R&D survey," Technological Forecasting and Social Change, Elsevier, vol. 134(C), pages 277-289.
    5. Claudio Cozza & Antonello Zanfei, 2018. "Multinational firms and the creation of technological linkages in Italy," Revista Cuadernos de Economía, Universidad Nacional de Colombia -FCE - CID, vol. 37(74), pages 429-442, July.
    6. Cozza, Claudio & Perani, Giulio & Zanfei, Antonello, 2016. "Are multinationals better at creating technical linkages with local firms?," Papers in Innovation Studies 2016/14, Lund University, CIRCLE - Center for Innovation Research.
    7. Lorena D’Agostino, 2015. "The neglected effects of R&D captive offshoring in emerging countries on the creation of knowledge at home," Economia e Politica Industriale: Journal of Industrial and Business Economics, Springer;Associazione Amici di Economia e Politica Industriale, vol. 42(1), pages 61-91, March.
    8. Emanuele Brancati & Raffaele Brancati & Dario Guarascio & Andrea Maresca & Manuel Romagnoli & Antonello Zanfei, 2018. "Firm-level Drivers of Export Performance and External Competitiveness in Italy," European Economy - Discussion Papers 2015 - 087, Directorate General Economic and Financial Affairs (DG ECFIN), European Commission.
    9. Matteo Lucchese & Leopoldo Nascia & Mario Pianta, 2016. "Industrial policy and technology in Italy," Economia e Politica Industriale: Journal of Industrial and Business Economics, Springer;Associazione Amici di Economia e Politica Industriale, vol. 43(3), pages 233-260, September.
    10. Brancati, Emanuele & Brancati, Raffaele & Guarascio, Dario & Zanfei, Antonello, 2020. "In Times of Trouble: Innovative Drivers of External Competitiveness for Small Businesses during the Great Recession," GLO Discussion Paper Series 639, Global Labor Organization (GLO).

    More about this item


    Internazionalizzazione della R&S; IDE in entrata; IDE in uscita;

    JEL classification:

    • F10 - International Economics - - Trade - - - General
    • F23 - International Economics - - International Factor Movements and International Business - - - Multinational Firms; International Business
    • O33 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Technological Change: Choices and Consequences; Diffusion Processes


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