Evidence on the impact of R&D and ICT investment on innovation and productivity in Italian firms

B.H. Hall, F. Lotti, J. Mairesse

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Both research and development (R&D) and information and communication technology (ICT) investment have been identified as sources of relative innovation underperformance in Europe vis-à-vis the USA. In this article, we investigate the R&D and ICT investment at the firm level in an effort to assess their relative importance and to what extent they are complements or substitutes. We use data on a large unbalanced panel data sample of Italian manufacturing firms constructed from four consecutive waves of a survey of manufacturing firms, to estimate a version of the CDM model of R&D, innovation, and productivity [Crépon-Duguet-Mairesse 1998. Research, innovation and productivity: An econometric analysis at the firm level. Economics of Innovation and New Technology 7, no. 2: 115-58] that has been modified to include ICT investment and R&D as the two main inputs into innovation and productivity. We find that R&D and ICT are both strongly associated with innovation and productivity, with R&D being more important for innovation, and ICT investment being more important for productivity. For the median firm, rates of return to both investments are so high that they suggest considerably underinvestment in both these activities. We explore the possible complementarity between R&D and ICT in innovation and production, but find none, although we do find complementarity between R&D and worker skill in innovation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)300-328
JournalEconomics of Innovation and New Technology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2013

Cite this