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R&D and Productivity in the UK: evidence from firm-level data in the 1990s

  • Mark Rogers

The UK`s business R&D (BERD) to GDP ratio is low compared to other leading economies, and the ratio has slowly declined over the 1990s. This paper uses data on large UK firms to analyse the link between R&D and productivity over the 1989-2000 period. Using a production function approach, and a sample of up to 719 firms, various different samples and estimators are used to assess the elasticity of, and rate of return to, R&D. The results indicate that UK returns to R&D are similar to returns in other leading economies. Furthermore, the returns to R&D have been relatively stable over the 1990s. There is no evidence to suggest that stock market listed firms, or firms with higher past profitability, have significantly different returns. Overall, the results suggest that the low BERD to GDP ratio in the UK is unlikely to be due to direct financial or human capital constraints (as these imply finding relatively high rates of return). Instead, the low BERD to GDP ratio appears to reflect low (perceived) opportunities by firms and the inability of firms to manage R&D to generate value. The paper provides some, tentative evidence, that high rates of competition in the science-based sector are associated with low returns to R&D.

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Paper provided by University of Oxford, Department of Economics in its series Economics Series Working Papers with number 255.

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Date of creation: 01 Jan 2006
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Handle: RePEc:oxf:wpaper:255
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  17. George Symeonidis, 1996. "Innovation, Firm Size and Market Structure: Schumpeterian Hypotheses and Some New Themes," OECD Economics Department Working Papers 161, OECD Publishing.
  18. Gérard Ballot & Fathi Fakhfakh & Erol Taymaz, 2006. "Who Benefits from Training and R&D, the Firm or the Workers?," British Journal of Industrial Relations, London School of Economics, vol. 44(3), pages 473-495, 09.
  19. Bart Los & Bart Verspagen, 2000. "R&D spillovers and productivity: Evidence from U.S. manufacturing microdata," Empirical Economics, Springer, vol. 25(1), pages 127-148.
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