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Is Financial Support for Private R&D Always Justified? A Discussion Based on the Literature on Growth

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  • Benjamin Montmartin

    (GREDEG CNRS
    University of Nice-Sophia Antipolis, France)

  • Nadine Massard

    (GATE Lyon Saint-Etienne
    Jean Monnet University, Saint-Etienne, France)

Abstract

Many economists have long held that market failures create a gap between social and private returns to Research and Development (R&D), thereby limiting private incentives to invest in R&D. However, this common belief that firms significantly underinvest in R&D is increasingly being challenged, leading the rationale behind public support for private R&D to be questioned. In this paper, we attempt to clarify the perspectives of two sources: the theoretical literature on endogenous growth, and its recent developments in integrating a geographical dimension, and the empirical literature that measures the social returns to R&D in relation to the private returns. Ultimately, we are able to clearly distinguish among different types of market failures and compare their relative impact on the gap between the private and social returns to R&D. Two main conclusions are reached. First, systematic firm underinvestment in R&D is not demonstrated. Second, even though instances of underinvestment do occur, they are mainly explained by surplus appropriability problems rather than by knowledge externalities. This suggests the need for a new policy mix that employs more demand-oriented instruments and is more concentrated on identifying efficient allocations among activities rather than merely increasing global private R&D investment.

Suggested Citation

  • Benjamin Montmartin & Nadine Massard, 2013. "Is Financial Support for Private R&D Always Justified? A Discussion Based on the Literature on Growth," GREDEG Working Papers 2013-34, Groupe de REcherche en Droit, Economie, Gestion (GREDEG CNRS), University of Nice Sophia Antipolis.
  • Handle: RePEc:gre:wpaper:2013-34
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Laura Barbieri & Daniela Bragoli & Flavia Cortelezzi & Giovanni Marseguerra, 2015. "Public Support to Innovation Strategies," DISCE - Quaderni del Dipartimento di Scienze Economiche e Sociali dises1509, Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Dipartimenti e Istituti di Scienze Economiche (DISCE).
    2. Benjamin Montmartin & Marcos Herrera & Nadine Massard, 2018. "The Impact of the French Policy Mix on Business R&D: How Geography Matters," GREDEG Working Papers 2018-09, Groupe de REcherche en Droit, Economie, Gestion (GREDEG CNRS), University of Nice Sophia Antipolis.
    3. Montmartin, Benjamin & Herrera, Marcos, 2015. "Internal and external effects of R&D subsidies and fiscal incentives: Empirical evidence using spatial dynamic panel models," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 44(5), pages 1065-1079.
    4. Marino, Marianna & Lhuillery, Stephane & Parrotta, Pierpaolo & Sala, Davide, 2016. "Additionality or crowding-out? An overall evaluation of public R&D subsidy on private R&D expenditure," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 45(9), pages 1715-1730.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Returns to R&D; market failures; R&D based growth; economic geography; R&D policy;

    JEL classification:

    • E61 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook - - - Policy Objectives; Policy Designs and Consistency; Policy Coordination
    • O41 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Growth and Aggregate Productivity - - - One, Two, and Multisector Growth Models
    • O38 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Government Policy
    • R11 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - General Regional Economics - - - Regional Economic Activity: Growth, Development, Environmental Issues, and Changes

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