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Persistence of profits and the systematic search for knowledge - R&D links to firm above-norm profits


  • Eklund, Johan

    () (Jönköping International Business School (JIBS) and CESIS)

  • Wiberg, Daniel

    () (Jönköping International Business School (JIBS) and CESIS)


Economic theory tells us that abnormal firm and industry profits will not persist for any significant length of time. Any firm or industry making profits in excess of the normal rate of return will attract entrants and this competitive process will erode profits. However, a substantial amount of research has found evidence of persistent profits above the norm. Barriers to entry and exit, is an often put forward explanation to this anomaly. In the absence of, or with low barriers to entry and exit, this reasoning provides little help in explaining why these above-norm profits arise and persist. In this paper we explore the links between the systematic search for knowledge and the persistence of profits. By investing in research and development firms may succeed in creating products or services that are preferred by the market and/or find a more cost efficient method of production. Corporations that systematically invest in research and development may, by doing this, offset the erosion of profits and thereby have persistently high profits which diverge from the competitive return.We argue that even in the absence of significant barriers to entry and exit profits may persist. This can be accredited to a systematic search for knowledge through research and development.

Suggested Citation

  • Eklund, Johan & Wiberg, Daniel, 2007. "Persistence of profits and the systematic search for knowledge - R&D links to firm above-norm profits," Working Paper Series in Economics and Institutions of Innovation 85, Royal Institute of Technology, CESIS - Centre of Excellence for Science and Innovation Studies.
  • Handle: RePEc:hhs:cesisp:0085

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Schwalbach, Joachim & Gra[beta]hoff, Ulrike & Mahmood, Talat, 1989. "The dynamics of corporate profits," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 33(8), pages 1625-1639, October.
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    Cited by:

    1. Nuria Alcalde-Fradejas & Marisa Ramírez-Alesón, 2015. "Long-run profits in times of crisis: A comparison between European SMEs and large companies," Estudios de Economia, University of Chile, Department of Economics, vol. 42(1 Year 20), pages 79-97, June.
    2. Johansson, Börje & Lööf, Hans, 2008. "The Impact of Firm’s R&D Strategy on Profit and Productivity," Working Paper Series in Economics and Institutions of Innovation 156, Royal Institute of Technology, CESIS - Centre of Excellence for Science and Innovation Studies.
    3. Christa Sys, 2013. "Persistence of profits in the container liner shipping industry," Chapters,in: Smart Transport Networks, chapter 6, pages 99-125 Edward Elgar Publishing.

    More about this item


    Persistence of Profits; Profit Dynamics; R&D; Innovation Activity; Knowledge;

    JEL classification:

    • C10 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric and Statistical Methods and Methodology: General - - - General
    • C32 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Multiple or Simultaneous Equation Models; Multiple Variables - - - Time-Series Models; Dynamic Quantile Regressions; Dynamic Treatment Effect Models; Diffusion Processes; State Space Models
    • O10 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - General
    • O32 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Management of Technological Innovation and R&D

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