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Innovation and Foreign Technology in Italy, 1861-2011

Author

Listed:
  • Federico Barbiellini Amidei

    (Banca d’Italia)

  • John Cantwell

    (Rutgers University)

  • Anna Spadavecchia

    (University of Reading)

Abstract

The paper explores the long run evolution of Italy’s performance in technological innovation as a function of international technology transfer, reconstructing the different phases and dimensions of Italian innovative activity, tracking the transfer of foreign technological knowledge through a number of channels, analysing the impact of imported technology. The study is based on a newly constructed dataset, over the 1861-2009 period, composed of variables related to: innovation activity performance; foreign technology transfer; domestic absorptive and innovative capability. The analysis highlights, also by econometric assessment, the significant contribution of foreign technology both to innovation activity results and to productivity growth. Differences across channels of technology transfer and historical phases emerge, also in connection with the evolution of human capital endowment and domestic innovative capacity. Machinery imports contributed positively both to innovation activity and to productivity growth; inward FDI contributed positively to productivity growth, but not to indigenous innovation activity; the accumulation of technical human capital fuelled both. In the long Italian Golden Age, for the first time the association of foreign technological knowledge with indigenous innovation processes strengthened productivity significantly. More recently instead the dismal productivity growth is directly associated with formalised innovation activity under-performance and reduced imports of disembodied technology.

Suggested Citation

  • Federico Barbiellini Amidei & John Cantwell & Anna Spadavecchia, 2011. "Innovation and Foreign Technology in Italy, 1861-2011," Quaderni di storia economica (Economic History Working Papers) 07, Bank of Italy, Economic Research and International Relations Area.
  • Handle: RePEc:bdi:workqs:qse_07
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

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    2. Alessandro Nuvolari & Michelangelo Vasta, 2012. "The Ghost in the Attic? The Italian National Innovation System in Historical Perspective, 1861-2011," Department of Economics University of Siena 665, Department of Economics, University of Siena.
    3. Stefano Lucarelli & Daniela Palma & Roberto Romano, 2013. "Quando gli investimenti rappresentano un vincolo. Contributo alla discussione sulla crisi italiana nella crisi internazionale," Moneta e Credito, Economia civile, vol. 66(262), pages 167-203.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Italy; Technology Transfer; Innovation; Absorptive Capability; Patenting;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • N10 - Economic History - - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics; Industrial Structure; Growth; Fluctuations - - - General, International, or Comparative
    • O31 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Innovation and Invention: Processes and Incentives
    • O33 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Technological Change: Choices and Consequences; Diffusion Processes
    • F23 - International Economics - - International Factor Movements and International Business - - - Multinational Firms; International Business
    • O19 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - International Linkages to Development; Role of International Organizations

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