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Innovation and productivity in the food vs. the high-tech manufacturing sector

Fabian Frick, Corina Jantke and Johannes Sauer

Economics of Innovation and New Technology, 2019, vol. 28, issue 7, 674-694

Abstract: The food sector is considered a mature industry characterized by low research and development (R&D) intensity. Nevertheless, food companies face numerous challenges and cannot do without innovation activity if they want to keep their competitiveness. In this study, we examine the impact of innovation on labor productivity in European food companies and compare it to results for firms operating in high-tech sectors. The central motivation of our study is that the low R&D intensity observed in the food sector should be mirrored in different productivity effects of innovation when compared to the high-tech sector. We use microdata from the European Union's ‘Community Innovation Survey’ (CIS) and apply an endogeneity-robust multi-stage model that has been applied by various recent studies. Our results point out major differences between the examined subsectors. While we find strong positive effects of innovation on labor productivity for food firms, we find insignificant effects in the high-tech sector. This might suggest that the returns to innovation might be best evaluated separately by sector rather than for the manufacturing sector as a whole.

Date: 2019
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