R&D Cooperation: Determinants, persistence and its effect on firms’ innovative performance

Erika Raquel Badillo Enciso

March 20, 2015

Rosina Moreno

This doctoral thesis consists of three different empirical studies which represent new contributions to the empirical research of firms’ R&D cooperation behaviour, one of the most relevant research issues in the field of Economics of Innovation. The three studies that constitute the dissertation focus on the Spanish case. The first empirical chapter analyses the heterogeneity in firms’ decisions to engage in R&D cooperation, taking into account the type of partner (competitors, suppliers or customers, and research institutions) and the sector to which the firm belongs (manufactures or services), while controlling for the possible correlation between such R&D cooperation strategies. In general terms, the results suggest that determinants of R&D cooperation differ between the different types of cooperation and between the two sectors under consideration. Placing a higher importance to publicly available information (incoming spillovers), receiving public funding and firm size increases the probability of cooperation with all kind of partners but the role is much stronger in the case of cooperative agreements with research institutions and universities. The results also suggest that R&D intensity and the importance attributed to the lack of qualified personnel as a factor hampering innovation are key factors influencing positively the decisions to cooperate in the service sector but they do not seem to affect these decisions in the manufacturing sector. The aim of the second study is to analyse if R&D collaborative agreements are persistent at the firm level, and in such a case, to study what are the main drivers of this phenomenon. R&D cooperation activities at the firm level can be persistent due to true state dependence, this implying that cooperating in a given period enhances the probability of doing it in the subsequent period and it can also be a consequence of firms’ individual heterogeneity, so that certain firms have certain characteristics that make them more likely to carry out technological alliances. A second objective of this study is to evaluate the differentiated persistence pattern of collaboration agreements for three different types of partners: customers and/or suppliers, competitors and institutions. The results suggest that firms are persistent in cooperation activities as a strategy to carry out their innovation activities. There is a significant state dependence effect for cooperation even once it considers the different types of cooperation separately. In this case, the highest persistence is found in the case of collaboration with institutions, followed by customers and clients. The results also suggest that institutional cooperation may provide the basis and tools for forming future agreements with other type of collaboration partner vertical or horizontal. The third empirical chapter examines the impact that the geographical scope of collaborative research may have on innovation performance. This study advances beyond the studies on the differences between national and international cooperation with respect to the impact on innovation output by disaggregating the geographical scope of the international alliances as well as analysing if absorptive capacity is equally important for national and international research alliances. The obtained results allow to conclude that the benefits of research collaboration differ across different dimensions of the geography. The result suggest that firms benefit from interaction with international partners as a way to access new technologies, specialized or novel knowledge that they are unable to find locally. In addition, that research collaboration simultaneously with partners in different geographical areas leads to better innovation performance if compared to collaborations exclusively with partners geographically closer. Regarding the role played by absorptive capacity on the relationship between collaboration research and innovation performance, it can be conclude that a firm can learn more from its foreign partners, with different culture and environment, but if the firm possesses the potential capacity to acquire and assimilate such new knowledge, the benefit from cooperation increases.