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Characterizing the evolution of the EU R&D intensity gap using data from top R&D performers


  • Federico Biagi
  • Juraj Stančík


In this paper we look at the evolution of the R&D intensity gap between the EU and its major competitors using data from the Industrial Scoreboard covering the period 2002-2010. We focus on R&D intensity and we assess whether the gaps relative to major competitors arise from differences in industrial composition (structural component) or differences within sectors (intrinsic component). The paper is divided in two parts. In the first part of the paper we first present the evolution of the R&D intensity gap between the EU and its major competitors (US, Japan, BRIC, Asian Tigers) and then we look more closely at the role and evolution of the structural and intrinsic component for each pair-wise comparison, by looking at four basic macro-sectors defined in term of their R&D intensity. In the second part of our work we concentrate on the EU-US R&D intensity gap and, by applying firm level analysis, we test whether the results obtained by the statistical decomposition of aggregate R&D intensity are confirmed. In particular we test whether there is evidence of across-sector variability in R&D intensity and whether, within sectors, EU and US firms are performing differently, controlling for size, cyclical effects, common macroeconomic shocks and company’s age. Age is important for at least two reasons. First, young companies might have more problems in finding access to funds necessary in order to invest in R&D. Second, young companies might have to be especially aggressive in terms of innovation if they want to enter and succeed in markets where incumbents already exist. Therefore, our aim here is also to document the age profile for R&D intensity and to verify whether the R&D intensity gap between EU and non-EU companies is related to age of the firm. Finally we check if R&D intensity is affected by the abundance of internal funds (as captured by the profit/sales ratio), if this relationship changes with the age of the company and if the latter shows across-regional variation. Our results from firm level analysis indicate that there is evidence of strong across-sector variation and some evidence of within-sectors-across-region variation, which –however- is not always in favour of the US. Moreover we find that R&D intensity tends to decrease as firm size increases (as measured by the number of employees), that the age profile for R&D intensity behaves very differently in the two regions and that young companies in the EU exhibit a much higher reactivity to lagged profits-to-sales ratio, when compared to their US counterpart. We believe that this is an indication that the conditions for accessibility and cost of funds differ significantly across the two regions. Keywords: R&D Intensity, EU R&D gap JEL Codes: L16, O30, O57

Suggested Citation

  • Federico Biagi & Juraj Stančík, 2012. "Characterizing the evolution of the EU R&D intensity gap using data from top R&D performers," ERSA conference papers ersa12p321, European Regional Science Association.
  • Handle: RePEc:wiw:wiwrsa:ersa12p321

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Moncada-Paternò-Castello, Pietro & Ciupagea, Constantin & Smith, Keith & Tübke, Alexander & Tubbs, Mike, 2010. "Does Europe perform too little corporate R&D? A comparison of EU and non-EU corporate R&D performance," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 39(4), pages 523-536, May.
    2. Dominique Guellec & Bruno van Pottelsberghe de la Potterie, 2003. "R&D and Productivity Growth: Panel Data Analysis of 16 OECD Countries," OECD Economic Studies, OECD Publishing, vol. 2001(2), pages 103-126.
    3. Rachel Griffith & Stephen Redding & John Van Reenen, 2003. "R&D and Absorptive Capacity: Theory and Empirical Evidence," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 105(1), pages 99-118, March.
    4. Azele Mathieu & Bruno van Pottelsberghe de la Potterie, 2010. "A Note on the Drivers of R&D Intensity," Research in World Economy, Research in World Economy, Sciedu Press, vol. 1(1), pages 56-65, November.
    5. Raquel Ortega-Argilés & Mariacristina Piva & Marco Vivarelli, 2014. "The transatlantic productivity gap: Is R&D the main culprit?," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 47(4), pages 1342-1371, November.
    6. Andrea Bassanini & Stefano Scarpetta & Ignazio Visco, 2000. "Knowledge technology and economic growth: recent evidence from OECD countries," Working Paper Research 06, National Bank of Belgium.
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    Cited by:

    1. Simon Forge & Colin Blackman & Itzhak Goldberg & Federico Biagi, 2013. "Comparing Innovation Performance in the EU and the USA: Lessons from Three ICT Sub-Sectors," JRC Working Papers JRC81448, Joint Research Centre (Seville site).

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • L16 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Industrial Organization and Macroeconomics; Macroeconomic Industrial Structure
    • O30 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - General
    • O57 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economywide Country Studies - - - Comparative Studies of Countries

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