IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Login to save this paper or follow this series

The Causal Effects of Competition on Innovation: Experimental Evidence

  • Philippe Aghion
  • Stefan Bechtold
  • Lea Cassar
  • Holger Herz

In this paper, we design two laboratory experiments to analyze the causal effects of competition on step-by-step innovation. Innovations result from costly R&D investments and move technology up one step. Competition is inversely measured by the ex post rents for firms that operate at the same technological level, i.e. for neck-and-neck firms. First, we find that increased competition leads to a significant increase in R&D investments by neck-and-neck firms. Second, increased competition decreases R&D investments by firms that are lagging behind, in particular if the time horizon is short. Third, we find that increased competition affects industry composition by reducing the fraction of sectors where firms are neck-and-neck. All these results are consistent with the predictions of step-by-step innovation models.

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL:
Download Restriction: Access to the full text is generally limited to series subscribers, however if the top level domain of the client browser is in a developing country or transition economy free access is provided. More information about subscriptions and free access is available at Free access is also available to older working papers.

As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version under "Related research" (further below) or search for a different version of it.

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 19987.

in new window

Date of creation: Mar 2014
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:19987
Note: PR
Contact details of provider: Postal: National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.
Phone: 617-868-3900
Web page:

More information through EDIRC

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

as in new window
  1. Isaac, R Mark & Reynolds, Stanley S, 1988. "Appropriability and Market Structure in a Stochastic Invention Model," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 103(4), pages 647-71, November.
  2. Schmidt, Klaus M., 1996. "Managerial Incentives and Product Market Competition," CEPR Discussion Papers 1382, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  3. Dario Sacco & Armin Schmutzler, 2008. "Competition and Innovation: An Experimental Investigation," SOI - Working Papers 0807, Socioeconomic Institute - University of Zurich.
  4. Alberto Galasso & Mark Schankerman, 2014. "Patents and Cumulative Innovation: Causal Evidence from the Courts," NBER Working Papers 20269, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Philippe Aghion & Peter Howitt, 2009. "The Economics of Growth," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 9780262012638, June.
  6. Stephen Nickell, 1993. "Competition and Corporate Performance," CEP Discussion Papers dp0182, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  7. Harris, Christopher & Howitt, Peter & Vickers, John & Aghion, Philippe, 2001. "Competition, Imitation and Growth with Step-by-Step Innovation," Scholarly Articles 12375013, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  8. Blundell, Richard & Griffith, Rachel & van Reenen, John, 1999. "Market Share, Market Value and Innovation in a Panel of British Manufacturing Firms," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 66(3), pages 529-54, July.
  9. Daron Acemoglu & Ufuk Akcigit, 2012. "Intellectual Property Rights Policy, Competition And Innovation," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 10(1), pages 1-42, 02.
  10. Sacco, Dario & Schmutzler, Armin, 2011. "Is there a U-shaped relation between competition and investment?," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 29(1), pages 65-73, January.
  11. Bronwyn H. Hall & Dietmar Harhoff, 2012. "Recent Research on the Economics of Patents," NBER Working Papers 17773, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Zizzo, Daniel John, 2002. "Racing with uncertainty: a patent race experiment," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 20(6), pages 877-902, June.
  13. Murray, Fiona & Stern, Scott, 2007. "Do formal intellectual property rights hinder the free flow of scientific knowledge?: An empirical test of the anti-commons hypothesis," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 63(4), pages 648-687, August.
  14. Isaac, R. Mark & Reynolds, Stanley S., 1992. "Schumpeterian competition in experimental markets," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 17(1), pages 59-100, January.
  15. Aghion, Philippe & Harris, Christopher & Vickers, John, 1997. "Competition and growth with step-by-step innovation: An example," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 41(3-5), pages 771-782, April.
  16. Philippe Aghion & Nick Bloom & Richard Blundell & Rachel Griffith & Peter Howitt, 2005. "Competition and Innovation: An Inverted-U Relationship," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 120(2), pages 701-728, May.
  17. Yves Breitmoser & Jonathan H. W. Tan & Daniel John Zizzo, 2008. "Understanding Perpetual R&D Races," Working Papers 08-22, Centre for Competition Policy, University of East Anglia.
  18. Urs Fischbacher, 2007. "z-Tree: Zurich toolbox for ready-made economic experiments," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 10(2), pages 171-178, June.
  19. Hart, Oliver D., 1980. "Perfect competition and optimal product differentiation," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 22(2), pages 279-312, April.
  20. Harris, Christopher & Vickers, John, 1985. "Perfect Equilibrium in a Model of a Race," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 52(2), pages 193-209, April.
  21. Aghion, Philippe, et al, 2001. "Competition, Imitation and Growth with Step-by-Step Innovation," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 68(3), pages 467-92, July.
  22. Datta, Somnath & Satten, Glen A., 2005. "Rank-Sum Tests for Clustered Data," Journal of the American Statistical Association, American Statistical Association, vol. 100, pages 908-915, September.
  23. Harris, Christopher & Vickers, John, 1987. "Racing with Uncertainty," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 54(1), pages 1-21, January.
  24. Schmutzler, Armin, 2013. "Competition and investment — A unified approach," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 31(5), pages 477-487.
  25. Fiona E. Murray & Scott Stern, 2007. "Do Formal Intellectual Property Rights Hinder the Free Flow of Scientific Knowledge?: An Empirical Test of the Anti-Commons Hypothesis," NBER Chapters, in: Academic Science and Entrepreneurship: Dual Engines of Growth National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  26. Galasso, Alberto & Schankerman, Mark, 2013. "Patents and Cumulative Innovation:Causal Evidence from the Courts," IIR Working Paper 13-16, Institute of Innovation Research, Hitotsubashi University.
  27. Harris, Christopher J & Vickers, John S, 1985. "Patent Races and the Persistence of Monopoly," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 33(4), pages 461-81, June.
  28. Jean Tirole, 1988. "The Theory of Industrial Organization," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262200716, June.
  29. Heidi L. Williams, 2010. "Intellectual Property Rights and Innovation: Evidence from the Human Genome," NBER Working Papers 16213, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:19987. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: ()

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.