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Patterns of R&D and Growth Performance: Can a Technological Follower Be Converted Into an Economic Leader?


  • Argentino Pessoa


  • Mario Silva



It is well known that researchers in several traditions have argued that innovation is essential to ensure countries’ economic growth (Schumpeter, 1912; Freeman, 1987; Pavitt, 1982; Romer, 1990; Jones, 1995). At the same time, others researchers have stressed the role of imitative capacity in economic catching-up (Rosenberg, 1963; Abramovitz, 1986; Fagerberg, 1987). Simultaneously, for a great lot of countries economic growth has become one of the most significant policy commitments. Accordingly, although with very different results, several countries have vastly increased their economic and policy commitments to innovation and have made investments in their innovative capacity, and in their levels of R&D expenditures. Furthermore, R&D intensity, the structure of R&D expenditures and the productivity of R&D outlays show a remarkable diversity across countries. Our paper uses this diversity and the lessons of the past three decades to shed some light on the relationship between productivity and technological change and aims to answer the following questions: How was the productivity in economic miracles propelled by a technological change? What are the reasons why it seems so easy for some few countries — and so difficult for a lot of others — to catch-up with the levels of productivity of the world technological frontier? So, in this paper we investigate the patterns of development in national innovative capacity, focusing on the country level investments in R&D, and in the examination of the patent counts, in a broad sample of countries that include the leaders and the followers in catching up to the world's leading countries. The institutional configurations, and national policy decisions that shape the different behaviour of some follower nations in terms of productivity and innovative output, are also studied.

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  • Argentino Pessoa & Mario Silva, 2006. "Patterns of R&D and Growth Performance: Can a Technological Follower Be Converted Into an Economic Leader?," ERSA conference papers ersa06p710, European Regional Science Association.
  • Handle: RePEc:wiw:wiwrsa:ersa06p710

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Aghion, Philippe & Howitt, Peter, 1992. "A Model of Growth through Creative Destruction," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 60(2), pages 323-351, March.
    2. Jones, Charles I & Williams, John C, 2000. "Too Much of a Good Thing? The Economics of Investment in R&D," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 5(1), pages 65-85, March.
    3. Fagerberg, Jan, 1987. "A technology gap approach to why growth rates differ," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 16(2-4), pages 87-99, August.
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    5. Dixit, Avinash K & Stiglitz, Joseph E, 1977. "Monopolistic Competition and Optimum Product Diversity," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 67(3), pages 297-308, June.
    6. Zvi Griliches, 1998. "Patent Statistics as Economic Indicators: A Survey," NBER Chapters,in: R&D and Productivity: The Econometric Evidence, pages 287-343 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Abramovitz, Moses, 1986. "Catching Up, Forging Ahead, and Falling Behind," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 46(02), pages 385-406, June.
    8. Romer, Paul M, 1990. "Endogenous Technological Change," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 98(5), pages 71-102, October.
    9. Charles I. Jones & John C. Williams, 1998. "Measuring the Social Return to R&D," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 113(4), pages 1119-1135.
    10. Argentino Pessoa, 2005. "“Ideas” driven growth: the OECD evidence," Portuguese Economic Journal, Springer;Instituto Superior de Economia e Gestao, vol. 4(1), pages 46-67, April.
    11. Maddison, Angus, 1987. "Growth and Slowdown in Advanced Capitalist Economies: Techniques of Quantitative Assessment," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 25(2), pages 649-698, June.
    12. Jones, Charles I, 1995. "R&D-Based Models of Economic Growth," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 103(4), pages 759-784, August.
    13. Pavitt, Keith, 1982. "R&D, patenting and innovative activities : A statistical exploration," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 11(1), pages 33-51, February.
    14. Zvi Griliches, 1998. "The Search for R&D Spillovers," NBER Chapters,in: R&D and Productivity: The Econometric Evidence, pages 251-268 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    15. Ethier, Wilfred J, 1982. "National and International Returns to Scale in the Modern Theory of International Trade," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 72(3), pages 389-405, June.
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