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Strategic conflicts on the horizon: R&D incentives for environmental technologies

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  • Heyen, Daniel

Abstract

Technological innovation is a key strategy for tackling climate change and other environmental problems. The required R&D expenditures however are substantial and fall on self-interested countries. Thus, the prospects of successful innovation critically depend on innovation incentives. This paper focuses on a specific mechanism for strategic distortions in this R&D game. In this mechanism, the outlook of future conflicts surrounding technology deployment directly impacts on the willingness to undertake R&D. Apart from free-riding, a different deployment conflict with distortive effects on innovation can occur. Low deployment costs and heterogeneous preferences might give rise to 'free-driving' (Weitzman 2015): The country with the highest preference for technology deployment, the free driver, may dominate the deployment outcome to the detriment of others. The present paper develops a simple two stage model for analysing how technology deployment conflicts, free-riding and free-driving, shape R&D incentives of two asymmetric countries. The framework gives rise to rich findings, underpinning the narrative that future deployment conflicts extend to the R&D stage. While the outlook of free-riding unambiguously weakens innovation incentives, the findings for free-driving are more complex, including the possibility of excessive R&D as well as incentives for counter-R&D.

Suggested Citation

  • Heyen, Daniel, 2016. "Strategic conflicts on the horizon: R&D incentives for environmental technologies," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 68104, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  • Handle: RePEc:ehl:lserod:68104
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    File URL: http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/68104/
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

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    2. Jean D. Kabongo, 2019. "Sustainable development and research and development intensity in U.S. manufacturing firms," Business Strategy and the Environment, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 28(4), pages 556-566, May.
    3. Pfrommer, Tobias, 2018. "Diverging Regional Climate Preferences and the Assessment of Solar Geoengineering," Working Papers 0654, University of Heidelberg, Department of Economics.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Environmental innovation; R&D game; innovation incentives; externalities; strategic conflicts; climate engineering; geoengineering; free driver externality;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • D62 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Externalities
    • H41 - Public Economics - - Publicly Provided Goods - - - Public Goods
    • O31 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Innovation and Invention: Processes and Incentives
    • Q54 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Climate; Natural Disasters and their Management; Global Warming
    • Q55 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Environmental Economics: Technological Innovation

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