Does technological cooperation impact innovative performance in Spanish firms?

Recent studies have emphasized that the development of new products in firms largely depends on the firm’s ability to build networks and partnerships as a way to incorporate external knowledge for innovation. Is this true in the Spanish case?

Using the Spanish Technological Innovation Panel from 2004 to 2012 and following a two-stage approach to address the selection bias on the estimation of the innovation performance model, we provide evidence on the issue. As shown in the results provided in the first paper of Task 1 in this project (INNOREDES 1.1), technological collaborations are found to be positive and statistically significant, pointing to a positive benefit from cooperation with firms or institutions. Our results conclude that firms maintaining research collaborations with partners are able to get a higher share of innovative sales if compared with those not carrying out cooperation agreements.

The impact of cooperation is much clearer in the case of large firms, where technological alliances have a significant effect on the generation of both incremental and radical innovations (incremental implies a product which is new only for the firm, whereas the radical one is new also for the market), although the latter is higher. For small firms, cooperation in innovative activities only presents a significant impact on radical innovations.

The impact of cooperation does not seem to differ before and during the crisis, being significantly positive in both cases, although of a slightly higher value in the crisis period. This higher impact in the crisis could be related to the fact that in a crisis period, with lower funding levels, firms would be more cautious with the resources they spend in new innovation projects and try to choose those with higher chances of success. In such a case, the return obtained from cooperation strategies would be higher.

Finally, collaborations exclusively with national partners and those exclusively with international partners are found to be positive and statistically significant, pointing to a positive benefit from cooperation with external firms or institutions no matter the geographical scope of the alliances. Moreover, our results conclude that firms maintaining research collaborations with partners abroad increase the share of innovative sales more than those that collaborate only with partners located in the same geographical area. This can be explained by the fact that collaboration with partners abroad can improve access to new or complementary technologies and resources that provide less redundant pieces of knowledge, which would allow enhancing innovation.

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