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Productivity gains from R&D investment: are high-tech sectors still ahead?


  • Raquel Ortega-Argilés

    () (IN+ Center for Innovation, Technology and Policy Research, Instituto Superior Técnico)

  • Mariacristina Piva

    () (DISCE, Università Cattolica)

  • Marco Vivarelli

    () (DISCE, Università Cattolica)


The purpose of this study is to investigate the relationship between a firm's R&D expenditures considered as an investment in knowledge, and its productivity, looking at sectoral peculiarities which may emerge; to this end, we use a large unique longitudinal database consisting of 1,809 US and European manufacturing and service firms over the period 1990-2008, for a total of 16,079 observations. Our main findings can be summarised as follows: knowledge stock has a significant positive impact on a firm's productivity, with an overall elasticity of about 0.10; this general result is largely consistent with findings presented in previous literature in terms of the sign, the significance and the estimated magnitude of the relevant coefficient. More interestingly, the coefficient turns out to be significantly larger in the service and high-tech sectors than in the non-high-tech manufacturing sectors. These outcomes suggest that firms in high-tech sectors are still ahead in terms of the impact on productivity of their R&D investments; moreover, a shift in favour of the service sectors seems to emerge.

Suggested Citation

  • Raquel Ortega-Argilés & Mariacristina Piva & Marco Vivarelli, 2013. "Productivity gains from R&D investment: are high-tech sectors still ahead?," DISCE - Quaderni del Dipartimento di Scienze Economiche e Sociali dises1390, Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Dipartimenti e Istituti di Scienze Economiche (DISCE).
  • Handle: RePEc:ctc:serie2:dises1390

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    More about this item


    R&D; Productivity; Knowledge stock; Panel data;

    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
    • L25 - Industrial Organization - - Firm Objectives, Organization, and Behavior - - - Firm Performance

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