Knowledge, innovation and localised technological change in Italy, 1950-1990
The paper is an attempt to provide an interpretation of the Italian puzzle in the post-WWII era consisting of very low levels of expenditure in R&D and yet high TFP growth. The research aims to supply the basic tools and the framework for a better understanding of the Italian industry innovation system and of its contribution to the country’s long term growth performance. The study applies the localized echnological change approach to implement the notion of knowledge interactions so as to appreciate: a) the role of external factors in the generation and exploitation of technological knowledge; b) the role of creative adoption in TFP dynamics. The analysis is based on a new dataset containing sectoral and regional series of TFP, capital intensity,wages per labour unit, R&D expenditures, patents granted in the USA, Technological Balance of Payments receipts and expenses, etc. for Italy over the 1950-1990 period. Using a SURE model framework, the impact of user-producer interactions on the dynamic efficiency of the Italian industrial sector is investigated across industries and regions. The significant and distinctive features of Italian innovation dynamics in the post WWII era that result are: i) the emerging and functioning of an innovation system based upon both horizontal dynamics of technological cooperation within industrial districts and vertical dynamic interdependence within industrial filieres; ii) a relevant, albeit incomplete, diffusion/catching up process in Italian regions.
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