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Knowledge-Based Capital, Innovation and Resource Allocation

  • Dan Andrews
  • Chiara Criscuolo

Investment in knowledge-based capital (KBC) – assets that lack physical embodiment, such as computerised information, innovative property and economic competencies – has been rising significantly. This has implications for innovation and productivity growth and requires new thinking on policy. The returns to investing in KBC differ significantly across countries and are partly shaped by structural policies, which influence the ability of economies to reallocate scarce resources to firms that invest in KBC. Well-functioning product, labour and venture capital markets and bankruptcy laws that do not overly penalise failure can raise the expected returns to investing in KBC by improving the efficiency of resource allocation. While structural reforms offer the most cost-effective approach to raising investment in KBC, there is a role for innovation policies to raise private investment in KBC towards the socially optimal level(s). Indeed, R&D tax incentives and, as a finding that contrasts with previous research, direct support measures can be effective, but design features are crucial in order to minimise the fiscal cost and unintended consequences of such policies. Welldefined intellectual property rights (IPR) are also important to provide firms with the incentive to innovate and to promote knowledge diffusion via the public disclosure of ideas. However, such IPR regimes need to be coupled with pro-competition policies to ensure maximum effect while the rising costs of the patent system in emerging KBC sectors may have altered the trade-off inherent to IPR between the incentives to innovate and the broad diffusion of knowledge. Actifs intellectuels, innovation et mobilité des ressources L'investissement dans le capital intellectuel – c'est-à-dire dans des actifs incorporels tels que les données informatisées, le capital d'innovation et les compétences économiques, ne cesse de progresser. Ces développements ont des implications pour l'innovation et l'accroissement de la productivité et exigent de repenser l'action des pouvoirs publics. Le rendement de l'investissement dans le capital intellectuel diffère sensiblement d'un pays à l'autre et est en partie formé par les politiques structurelles qui influent sur la capacité des économies à réaffecter les ressources limitées dans les entreprises qui investissent dans le capital intellectuel. Le bon fonctionnement des marchés des biens et services, du travail et de capital risque, ainsi qu’une législation sur le règlement des faillites ne pénalisant pas excessivement l'échec, peuvent augmenter les rendements attendus des investissements dans le capital intellectuel en améliorant l'efficacité de l'allocation des ressources. Si les réformes structurelles constituent l'approche la plus rentable pour accroitre les investissements dans le capital intellectuel, les politiques d'innovation peuvent jouer un rôle dans l’augmentation de l’investissement privé dans le capital intellectuel à un niveau plus optimal pour la collectivité. En effet, les incitations fiscales en faveur de la R-D ainsi que les mesures de soutien direct, peuvent être des dispositifs efficaces ; cependant, leur élaboration et mise en oeuvre est cruciale afin de minimiser le coût fiscal et les conséquences non souhaitées de ces politiques. Des droits de propriété intellectuelle (DPI) bien définis sont également essentiels pour inciter les entreprises à innover et à promouvoir la diffusion des connaissances par la divulgation publique des idées. Toutefois, les régimes des droits de propriété intellectuelle doivent être associés à des politiques stimulant la concurrence pour en assurer un effet maximal, dans un contexte où les coûts croissants du système de brevets dans les domaines émergents du capital intellectuel ont affecté l’équilibre entre les incitations à innover et une diffusion plus large du savoir, inhérent aux DPI.

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Paper provided by OECD Publishing in its series OECD Economics Department Working Papers with number 1046.

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Date of creation: 24 May 2013
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Handle: RePEc:oec:ecoaaa:1046-en
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