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Boosting Austria's Innovation Performance

  • Willi Leibfritz
  • Jürgen Janger

Enhancing growth through more innovation has become a priority for Austrian policy makers in line with European policies as laid down in the Lisbon Agenda. This paper discusses Austria’s innovation performance, its innovation policies, and general framework conditions for innovation and growth. Austria has increased its R&D spending as a share of GDP over the last ten years, largely reflecting more business R&D, and aims at increasing it further to 3% of GDP by 2010. Innovation activity as measured by output indicators has also improved in various fields, including the number of innovating SMEs. Furthermore, policy instruments and institutions have been improved and a culture of policy evaluation is developing. However, the paper identifies some weaknesses, particularly in general economic framework conditions, which may limit the creation and diffusion of innovation and productivity growth. It suggests focusing more on these framework conditions, notably by strengthening competition in non-manufacturing product markets, such as retail and professional services, reducing the cost of firm creation and improving human capital. It also argues that focusing on a numerical target for R&D spending as an end in itself is very unlikely to be cost effective. With its university reform in 2002, Austria has made a major step in improving the efficiency of tertiary education but more needs to be done. Comment améliorer la performance de l'Autriche en matière d'innovation Dans le droit fil des politiques européennes prévues par la Stratégie de Lisbonne, le renforcement de la croissance par un surcroît d’innovation est devenu une priorité pour les responsables autrichiens de l’action publique. Nous abordons dans le présent document les performances et les politiques de l’Autriche en matière d’innovation, ainsi que ses conditions-cadres pour l’innovation et la croissance. En pourcentage du PIB, le pays affiche sur la décennie écoulée une augmentation des dépenses de R-D largement imputable à une progression de la R-D dans les entreprises, et s’est fixé pour objectif de l’accroître encore à hauteur de 3 % du PIB d’ici 2010. À l’aune des indicateurs de production, les activités d’innovation ont connu des améliorations dans différents domaines, et le nombre de PME innovantes notamment a progressé. Les autorités ont également fait évoluer les moyens d’action et les institutions publiques, et une culture de l’évaluation des politiques menées se met en place. Nous détaillons cependant quelques points faibles qui, en particulier sous l’angle des conditions-cadres économiques, sont susceptibles de restreindre l’éclosion et la diffusion de l’innovation, ainsi que la croissance de la productivité. Nous suggérons d’axer davantage l’action sur ces conditions-cadres, notamment en renforçant la concurrence sur les marchés de produits non manufacturés tels que le commerce de détail et les services assurés par les professions libérales, en diminuant les coûts liés à la création d’une entreprise et en valorisant le capital humain. Nous indiquons par ailleurs que l’assignation aux dépenses de R-D d’un objectif numérique considéré comme une fin en soi a très peu de chances d’être économiquement rentable. Avec la réforme universitaire engagée en 2002, l’Autriche a franchi une étape cruciale sur la voie de l’amélioration de l’efficience de son enseignement supérieur, mais elle doit encore fournir d’autres efforts.

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File URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/081207562217
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Paper provided by OECD Publishing in its series OECD Economics Department Working Papers with number 580.

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Date of creation: 24 Sep 2007
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Handle: RePEc:oec:ecoaaa:580-en
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