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Firm heterogeneity, absorptive capacity and technical linkages with external parties in Italy

Claudio Cozza () and Antonello Zanfei ()
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Antonello Zanfei: DESP – University of Urbino “Carlo Bo”

The Journal of Technology Transfer, 2016, vol. 41, issue 4, 872-890

Abstract: Abstract While it is widely acknowledged that internal R&D is a fundamental source of the ability to absorb, select and use external knowledge, severe data limitations prevent from capturing differences across firms in this respect. Using a novel dataset supplied by the Italian Bureau of Statistics, we highlight that, when controlling for internal R&D efforts, not all firms are equally prone to gain access to external technology, and to the knowledge provided by universities in particular. We find that firms which do not only perform R&D activities but also belong to a group exhibit a higher propensity to access external knowledge by either contracting out R&D or cooperating with external parties, as compared to independent firms that are not organized into groups. This premium persists when controlling for different measures of internal R&D efforts. Furthermore, the differential in the propensity to access external knowledge is particularly high in the case of R&D performers belonging to foreign groups, i.e. Italian affiliates of foreign owned companies; and it is even higher in the case of the few Italian firms that have R&D activities abroad. The relative dis-advantage of independent firms, which represent the bulk of the Italian industry and include most small and medium sized enterprises, appears to be less of an obstacle in the case of linkages with universities, especially when R&D contracting out is considered.

Keywords: Absorptive capacity; R&D; External linkages; Group belonging; Multinationals (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: F10 F23 O33 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2016
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Handle: RePEc:kap:jtecht:v:41:y:2016:i:4:d:10.1007_s10961-015-9404-0