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Unlocking Investment in Intangible Assets


  • Anna Thum-Thysen
  • Peter Voigt
  • Benat Bilbao-Osorio
  • Christoph Maier
  • Diana Ognyanova


Intangible assets are at the heart of what makes firms competitive. They are vital for productivity and economic growth. A key question is whether the factors that tend to hold back investments in Europe are the same for tangible and intangible assets, i.e. is there a need for specific policy measures addressing intangible assets? This paper provides contextual information concerning intangible assets by discussing conceptual aspects, illustrating recent trends in terms of investments in intangibles and their corresponding impact on productivity and Gross Value Added (GVA) growth. With a view at specific characteristics of intangibles, potential drivers and barriers to investments in intangibles are identified and tested. Evidence from the presented empirical analyses suggests that including intangibles in a source-ofgrowth framework changes the corresponding growth patterns (GVA tends to grow more rapidly and capital deepening becomes the dominant source of growth). Looking at intangibles also helps to improve the understanding of TFP differentials. As regards investments, structural factors tend to matter generally more for intangibles whereas cyclical factors matter more for tangible assets. Against this backdrop, a series of policy-relevant messages has been derived. Overall, however, there is need to enlarge the general understanding of knowledge creation and to further improve the measurement of intangible assets in order to allow sound and evidence-based policy support.

Suggested Citation

  • Anna Thum-Thysen & Peter Voigt & Benat Bilbao-Osorio & Christoph Maier & Diana Ognyanova, 2017. "Unlocking Investment in Intangible Assets," European Economy - Discussion Papers 2015 - 047, Directorate General Economic and Financial Affairs (DG ECFIN), European Commission.
  • Handle: RePEc:euf:dispap:047

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    Cited by:

    1. Segol, Matthieu & Kolev, Atanas & Maurin, Laurent, 2021. "The impact of bank loan terms on intangible investment in Europe," EIB Working Papers 2021/05, European Investment Bank (EIB).
    2. Cecilia Jona Lasinio & Stefano Manzocchi & Valentina Meliciani, 2017. "Knowledge Based Capital and Value Creation in Global Supply Chains," Working Papers LuissLab 17134, Dipartimento di Economia e Finanza, LUISS Guido Carli.
    3. Anna Thum-Thysen & Peter Voigt & Christoph Weiss, 2021. "Reflections on Complementarities in Capital Formation and Production: Tangible and Intangible Assets across Europe," European Economy - Discussion Papers 2015 - 152, Directorate General Economic and Financial Affairs (DG ECFIN), European Commission.
    4. Thum-Thysen, Anna & Voigt, Peter & Weiss, Christoph, 2021. "Complementarities in capital formation and production: Tangible and intangible assets across Europe," EIB Working Papers 2021/12, European Investment Bank (EIB).
    5. Francisca Castilla-Polo & M. Isabel Sánchez-Hernández, 2020. "Cooperatives and Sustainable Development: A Multilevel Approach Based on Intangible Assets," Sustainability, MDPI, vol. 12(10), pages 1-14, May.
    6. Filippo Bertani & Marco Raberto & Andrea Teglio, 2020. "The productivity and unemployment effects of the digital transformation: an empirical and modelling assessment," Review of Evolutionary Political Economy, Springer, vol. 1(3), pages 329-355, November.
    7. Mr. Tigran Poghosyan, 2018. "Investment Slowdown in Denmark: Diagnosis and Policy Options," IMF Working Papers 2018/161, International Monetary Fund.
    8. Sandro Montresor & Antonio Vezzani, 2019. "Financial constraints and intangible investments. Do innovative and non-innovative firms differ?," JRC Working Papers on Corporate R&D and Innovation 2019-07, Joint Research Centre (Seville site).
    9. Peter Bauer & Igor Fedotenkov & Aurelien Genty & Issam Hallak & Peter Harasztosi & David Martinez Turegano & David Nguyen & Nadir Preziosi & Ana Rincon-Aznar & Miguel Sanchez Martinez, 2020. "Productivity in Europe: Trends and drivers in a service-based economy," JRC Research Reports JRC119785, Joint Research Centre (Seville site).
    10. Anna Thum-Thysen & Rossella Cravetto & Jan Varchola, 2021. "Investing in People’s Competences A Cornerstone for Growth and Wellbeing in the EU," European Economy - Discussion Papers 2015 - 139, Directorate General Economic and Financial Affairs (DG ECFIN), European Commission.
    11. Ferrando, Annalisa & Lekpek, Senad, 2018. "Access to finance and innovative activity of EU firms: A cluster analysis," EIB Working Papers 2018/02, European Investment Bank (EIB).
    12. Luke Pavia & Simon Grima & Inna Romanova & Jonathan V. Spiteri, 2021. "Fine Art Insurance Policies and Risk Perceptions: The Case of Malta," JRFM, MDPI, vol. 14(2), pages 1-16, February.
    13. Ferrando, Annalisa & Preuss, Carsten, 2018. "What finance for what investment? Survey-based evidence for European companies," EIB Working Papers 2018/01, European Investment Bank (EIB).
    14. Tairuddin Yusoff & Sazali A. Wahab & Ahmad S. A. Latiff & Suzana I. W. Osman & Nur F. M. Zawawi & Syed A. Fazal, 2018. "Sustainable Growth in SMEs: A Review from the Malaysian Perspective," Journal of Management and Sustainability, Canadian Center of Science and Education, vol. 8(3), pages 1-43, August.
    15. MARSCHINSKI Robert & DE AMORES HERNANDEZ Antonio & AMOROSO Sara & BAUER Peter & CARDANI Roberta & CSEFALVAY Zoltan & GENTY Aurelien & GKOTSIS Petros & GREGORI Wildmer & GRASSANO Nicola & HERNANDEZ GUE, 2021. "EU competitiveness: recent trends, drivers, and links to economic policy: A Synthesis Report," JRC Research Reports JRC123232, Joint Research Centre (Seville site).
    16. Marie-Baïanne Khder & Jérémi Montornès & Nicolas Ragache, 2020. "Irish GDP Growth in 2015: A Puzzle and Propositions for a Solution," Economie et Statistique / Economics and Statistics, Institut National de la Statistique et des Études Économiques (INSEE), issue 517-518-5, pages 173-190.
    17. Thum-Thysen, Anna & Voigt, Peter & Bilbao-Osorio, Beñat & Maier, Christoph & Ognyanova, Diana, 2019. "Investment dynamics in Europe: Distinct drivers and barriers for investing in intangible versus tangible assets?," Structural Change and Economic Dynamics, Elsevier, vol. 51(C), pages 77-88.
    18. Marek Pekarčík & Júlia Ďurčová & Jozef Glova, 2022. "Intangible ICT and Their Importance within Global Value Chains: An Empirical Analysis Based on Longitudinal Data Regression," Mathematics, MDPI, vol. 10(7), pages 1-14, April.
    19. Annalisa Ferrando & Carsten Preuss, 2018. "What finance for what investment? Survey-based evidence for European companies," Economia Politica: Journal of Analytical and Institutional Economics, Springer;Fondazione Edison, vol. 35(3), pages 1015-1053, December.
    20. Cecilia Jona-Lasinio & Valentina Meliciana, 2019. "Global Value Chains and Productivity Growth: Does Intangible Capital Matter?," International Productivity Monitor, Centre for the Study of Living Standards, vol. 36, pages 53-78, Spring.
    21. Philipp-Bastian Brutscher & Christopher Hols, 2020. "The European Corporate Equity Puzzle," Comparative Economic Studies, Palgrave Macmillan;Association for Comparative Economic Studies, vol. 62(1), pages 69-104, March.
    22. Guillaume Cléaud & Francisco de Castro Fernández & Jorge Durán Laguna & Lucia Granelli & Martin Hallet & Anne Jaubertie & Carlos Maravall Rodriguez & Diana Ognyanova & Balazs Palvolgyi & Tsvetan Tsali, 2019. "Cruising at Different Speeds: Similarities and Divergences between the German and the French Economies," European Economy - Discussion Papers 2015 - 103, Directorate General Economic and Financial Affairs (DG ECFIN), European Commission.
    23. Marques, Mário & Pinho, Carlos & Montenegro, Tânia Menezes, 2019. "The effect of international income shifting on the link between real investment and corporate taxation," Journal of International Accounting, Auditing and Taxation, Elsevier, vol. 36(C), pages 1-1.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • E01 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - General - - - Measurement and Data on National Income and Product Accounts and Wealth; Environmental Accounts
    • E22 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Investment; Capital; Intangible Capital; Capacity
    • O34 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Intellectual Property and Intellectual Capital
    • O4 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Growth and Aggregate Productivity

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