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The Innovation and Imitation Dichotomy in Spanish firms: do absorptive capacity and the technological frontier matter?


  • Verònica Gombau

    () (Universitat Rovira i Virgili, Departament d’Economia, CREIP, XREAP, Grup de Recerca d’Indústria i Territori, Av. Universitat, 1, 43204 Reus, Spain)

  • Agustí Segarra

    () (Universitat Rovira i Virgili, Departament d’Economia, CREIP, XREAP, Grup de Recerca d’Indústria i Territori, Av. Universitat, 1, 43204 Reus, Spain)


This paper analyses whether a firm’s absorptive capacity and its distance from the technological frontier affect the choice between innovation and imitation in innovative Spanish firms. From an extensive survey of 5,575 firms during the 2004-2009 period, we found two significant results. With regard to the role of absorptive capacity, the empirical evidence shows that when innovative firms have difficulties in accessing external information and hire skilled workers, their innovative capacity is reduced. Meanwhile, with regard to distance from the technological frontier, the firms that reduce this gap manage to increase their innovative capacity at the expense of imitation. To summarise, when we studied firms’ absorptive capacity and their relative position to the technological frontier in tandem, we found that the two factors directly affected firms' ability to innovate or imitate.

Suggested Citation

  • Verònica Gombau & Agustí Segarra, 2011. "The Innovation and Imitation Dichotomy in Spanish firms: do absorptive capacity and the technological frontier matter?," Working Papers XREAP2011-22, Xarxa de Referència en Economia Aplicada (XREAP), revised Dec 2011.
  • Handle: RePEc:xrp:wpaper:xreap2011-22

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    3. Hans Loof & Almas Heshmati, 2006. "On the relationship between innovation and performance: A sensitivity analysis," Economics of Innovation and New Technology, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 15(4-5), pages 317-344.
    4. Daron Acemoglu & Philippe Aghion & Fabrizio Zilibotti, 2006. "Distance to Frontier, Selection, and Economic Growth," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 4(1), pages 37-74, March.
    5. Xosé-Luís Varela-Irimia, 2014. "Age effects, unobserved characteristics and hedonic price indexes: The Spanish car market in the 1990s," SERIEs: Journal of the Spanish Economic Association, Springer;Spanish Economic Association, vol. 5(4), pages 419-455, November.
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    7. Marta Arespa, 2011. "Macroeconomics of extensive margins: a simple model," Working Papers XREAP2011-19, Xarxa de Referència en Economia Aplicada (XREAP), revised Nov 2011.
    8. Marta Arespa, 2011. "A New Open Economy Macroeconomic Model with Endogenous Portfolio Diversifi cation and Firms Entry," Working Papers XREAP2011-15, Xarxa de Referència en Economia Aplicada (XREAP), revised Oct 2011.
    9. Polterovich, Victor & Tonis, Alexander, 2005. "Innovation and Imitation at Various Stages of Development: A Model with Capital," MPRA Paper 20067, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    10. Alexander Coad, 2008. "Distance to Frontier and Appropriate Business Strategy," Papers on Economics and Evolution 2008-07, Philipps University Marburg, Department of Geography.
    11. Arbussa, Anna & Coenders, Germa, 2007. "Innovation activities, use of appropriation instruments and absorptive capacity: Evidence from Spanish firms," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 36(10), pages 1545-1558, December.
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    Cited by:

    1. Balatsky, Ye., 2012. "Technological Diffusion and Investment Decision," Journal of the New Economic Association, New Economic Association, vol. 15(3), pages 10-34.

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    R&D sources; innovation and imitation strategies; absorptive capacity; technological frontier; ordered probit;

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