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Innovation complementarities and firm growth


  • Stefano Bianchini
  • Gabriele Pellegrino
  • Federico Tamagni


This article explores the relations between firm growth and a set of four innovation indicators (in-house R&D, external sourcing, product innovation, and process innovation) that capture the different sources, modes, and outcomes of the innovative strategies adopted by firms. While existing studies tend to focus on the individual effects on growth of each innovation activity, we stress that firms adopt heterogeneous innovation strategies, choosing to perform different combinations of the basic innovation activities. We directly address the empirical question as to whether jointly performing two basic innovation activities boosts sales growth above and beyond the separate contribution of each innovation activity when performed individually. Exploiting a panel of Spanish manufacturing firms observed between 2004 and 2011, we document instances of super-modularity of the growth function, and reveal the presence of complementarities between internal R&D and product innovation, and between product and process innovations. As such, the combination of these three basic innovation activities appears to be the most effective strategy for sustaining growth and market shares, while external sourcing does not appear to make any systematic contribution.

Suggested Citation

  • Stefano Bianchini & Gabriele Pellegrino & Federico Tamagni, 2018. "Innovation complementarities and firm growth," Industrial and Corporate Change, Oxford University Press, vol. 27(4), pages 657-676.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:indcch:v:27:y:2018:i:4:p:657-676.

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    Cited by:

    1. Nathan, Max & Rosso, Anna, 2022. "Innovative events: product launches, innovation and firm performance," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 51(1).
    2. Asif Islam & Gregmar I. Galinato & Wentao Zhang, 2021. "Can government spending boost firm sales?," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 74(4), pages 488-511, November.
    3. Max Nathan & Anna Rosso, 2017. "Innovative events," Development Working Papers 429, Centro Studi Luca d'Agliano, University of Milano, revised 08 Apr 2019.
    4. Pietro Santoleri, 2020. "Innovation and job creation in (high-growth) new firms [An international cohort comparison of size effects on job growth]," Industrial and Corporate Change, Oxford University Press, vol. 29(3), pages 731-756.
    5. Blind, Knut & Krieger, Bastian & Pellens, Maikel, 2022. "The interplay between product innovation, publishing, patenting and developing standards," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 51(7).
    6. Isabel Cavalli & Charlie Joyez, 2021. "The Dynamics of French Universities in Patent Collaboration Networks," GREDEG Working Papers 2021-38, Groupe de REcherche en Droit, Economie, Gestion (GREDEG CNRS), Université Côte d'Azur, France.
    7. Başak Dalgıç & Burcu Fazlıoğlu, 2021. "Innovation and firm growth: Turkish manufacturing and services SMEs," Eurasian Business Review, Springer;Eurasia Business and Economics Society, vol. 11(3), pages 395-419, September.
    8. David Urbano & Andreu Turro & Sebastian Aparicio, 2020. "Innovation through R&D activities in the European context: antecedents and consequences," The Journal of Technology Transfer, Springer, vol. 45(5), pages 1481-1504, October.
    9. Alfonso Expósito & Juan A. Sanchis-Llopis, 2019. "The relationship between types of innovation and SMEs’ performance: a multi-dimensional empirical assessment," Eurasian Business Review, Springer;Eurasia Business and Economics Society, vol. 9(2), pages 115-135, June.
    10. Alex Coad & Agustí Segarra-Blasco & Mercedes Teruel, 2021. "A bit of basic, a bit of applied? R&D strategies and firm performance," The Journal of Technology Transfer, Springer, vol. 46(6), pages 1758-1783, December.
    11. Falk, Martin & de Lemos, Francisco Figueira, 2019. "Complementarity of R&D and productivity in SME export behavior," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, vol. 96(C), pages 157-168.
    12. Chei Bukari & Emm anuel Atta Anaman, 2021. "Corruption and firm innovation: a grease or sand in the wheels of commerce? Evidence from lower-middle and upper-middle income economies," Eurasian Business Review, Springer;Eurasia Business and Economics Society, vol. 11(2), pages 267-302, June.
    13. Guangying Xie & Shengyan Wu & Zhengjiang Song, 2022. "Focus on Innovation or Focus on Sales? The Influences of the Government of China’s Demand-Side Reform during COVID-19 and Their Sustainability Consequences in the Consumer Products Industry," Sustainability, MDPI, vol. 14(20), pages 1-21, October.
    14. Marta F. Arroyabe & Martin Schumann, 2022. "On the Estimation of True State Dependence in the Persistence of Innovation," Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, vol. 84(4), pages 850-893, August.
    15. Guarascio, Dario & Tamagni, Federico, 2019. "Persistence of innovation and patterns of firm growth," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 48(6), pages 1493-1512.
    16. Rubén Martínez-Alonso & María J. Martínez-Romero & Alfonso A. Rojo-Ramírez, 2019. "Examining the Impact of Innovation Forms on Sustainable Economic Performance: The Influence of Family Management," Sustainability, MDPI, vol. 11(21), pages 1-22, November.
    17. Bernardina Algieri & Antonio Aquino & Marianna Succurro, 2019. "The Impact of Cash-Flow and the Main Components of the Capital Structure on Innovative Performances of European Firms," Review of Economics and Institutions, Università di Perugia, vol. 11(1-2).
    18. Sorin Gabriel Anton & Mihaela Onofrei & Emilia Gogu & Bogdan Constantin Neculau & Florin Mihai, 2021. "Debt Overhang, Gazelles’ Growth, and Fiscal Policy: A Note from the Quantile Regression Approach," Sustainability, MDPI, vol. 13(18), pages 1-10, September.
    19. A. Arrighetti & L. Cattani & F. Landini & A. Lasagni, 2019. "Work Flexibility and Firm Growth," Economics Department Working Papers 2019-EP04, Department of Economics, Parma University (Italy).

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • C21 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Single Equation Models; Single Variables - - - Cross-Sectional Models; Spatial Models; Treatment Effect Models
    • D22 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations - - - Firm Behavior: Empirical Analysis
    • O31 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Innovation and Invention: Processes and Incentives
    • O32 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Management of Technological Innovation and R&D


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