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A simple theory and evidence on the determinants of firm R&D

  • Chang-Yang Lee

This paper derives a simple, but informative, model of firm R&D to figure out key factors that determine firm R&D effort. The model suggests a demand-pull, technology-push theory of R&D by showing that a firm's profit-maximizing R&D expenditure is determined jointly by both demand-side factors and technology-side factors. The former includes demand size (firm sales) and consumer preference over quality and price and the latter includes R&D cost structure or the production-cost effect of product R&D and firm-specific technological competence. In addition, the model shows that other things being equal, the stock of exogenous technological knowledge, including the firm's previously accumulated technological knowledge, relevant to current R&D which is negatively related with current R&D effort. An empirical analysis of firm R&D intensities and technological capabilities of more than 1600 firms in nine industries across six countries provides supportive evidence for the theory. Further, the theory implies that R&D intensity or the R&D-to-sales ratio is independent of firm size unless firm size affects technological competence and that given consumer preference and R&D cost structure facing all firms in the same industry, the distribution of firm-specific technological competence among firms determines the distribution of firm R&D intensities within the industry.

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File URL: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/1043859022000003418
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Article provided by Taylor & Francis Journals in its journal Economics of Innovation and New Technology.

Volume (Year): 12 (2003)
Issue (Month): 5 ()
Pages: 385-395

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Handle: RePEc:taf:ecinnt:v:12:y:2003:i:5:p:385-395
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  1. Jaffe, Adam B, 1986. "Technological Opportunity and Spillovers of R&D: Evidence from Firms' Patents, Profits, and Market Value," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 76(5), pages 984-1001, December.
  2. Schmookler, Jacob, 1962. "Economic Sources of Inventive Activity," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 22(01), pages 1-20, March.
  3. Scherer, F M, 1982. "Demand-Pull and Technological Invention: Schmookler Revisited," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 30(3), pages 225-37, March.
  4. Goldman, M. & Ergas, H. & Ralph, E. & Felker, G., 1997. "Technology Institutions and Policies. Their Role in Developing Technological Capability in Industry," Papers 383, World Bank - Technical Papers.
  5. Cohen, Wesley M & Levinthal, Daniel A, 1989. "Innovation and Learning: The Two Faces of R&D," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 99(397), pages 569-96, September.
  6. Klevorick, Alvin K. & Levin, Richard C. & Nelson, Richard R. & Winter, Sidney G., 1995. "On the sources and significance of interindustry differences in technological opportunities," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 24(2), pages 185-205, March.
  7. Needham, Douglas, 1975. "Market Structure and Firms' R & D Behavior," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 23(4), pages 241-55, June.
  8. Cohen, Wesley M & Klepper, Steven, 1992. "The Anatomy of Industry R&D Intensity Distributions," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 82(4), pages 773-99, September.
  9. Mowery, David & Rosenberg, Nathan, 1979. "The influence of market demand upon innovation: a critical review of some recent empirical studies," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 8(2), pages 102-153, April.
  10. Chang-Yang Lee, 2002. "A simple model of R&D: An extension of the Dorfman-Steiner theorem," Applied Economics Letters, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 9(7), pages 449-452.
  11. Cohen, Wesley M. & Levin, Richard C., 1989. "Empirical studies of innovation and market structure," Handbook of Industrial Organization, in: R. Schmalensee & R. Willig (ed.), Handbook of Industrial Organization, edition 1, volume 2, chapter 18, pages 1059-1107 Elsevier.
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