Collaborative agreements have become a strategy of knowledge sharing and transfer across firms which are largely recognised as an important (quasi-market) mechanism to access such external knowledge. Accordingly, for many firms it is becoming increasingly important to cooperate with other organizations to carry out their R&D activities. How importantly is this technological cooperation used by Spanish firms?
As shown in the first paper related to Task 1 in the project (INNOREDES 1.1), an average of 74% of Spanish firms in the period under consideration (2004-2012) declares to make some innovation although with a decreasing trend, more accentuated in the crisis period. This share is higher in the case of firms with less than 200 employees, for which the average amounts to 78%, and 64% of large firms innovating. However, the crisis from 2009 seems to affect small firms more importantly, with the share of small firms that innovate decreasing considerable from 2010.
Also, around 36% of innovative firms in Spain cooperate in innovation activities. However, this share is higher in the case of firms with more than 200 employees than in the case of SMES (less than 200 employees): 34% versus 44%, respectively. This share is maintained quite stable along the expansion period (2004-2008), whereas is seems to increase in the crisis (2009-2012). This time profile in the proportion of cooperative firms is reproduced both for small and large firms.
Figure 3 displays the distribution of the types of alliance by geographical areas and their temporal pattern, revealing interesting results. Research alliances with national partners are much higher than with foreign partners. On average, more than 60% of collaborative firms maintain research alliances exclusively with national partners with a decreasing pattern from 2005. The national nature of the majority of technological partnerships is not exclusive to the Spanish case, since previous studies for French and Dutch firms have also shown such pattern. The second most common type of alliance is that including both national and international partners (around 35%), a share increasing over time.
Is technological cooperation related to innovation performance?
Going into the detail of the innovative results obtained by Spanish firms, in Figure 4 we observe the share of sales due to innovative products, and the average share in the period under consideration (2004-2012) is much higher in the case of cooperative firms (31%) than in the case of non-cooperative firms (25%), a profile which is maintained along time. A test of differences in the mean between cooperative and non-cooperative firms is rejected in all years.
When disaggregating by firm’s size, Figures 5 and 6 display that in general, small firms present higher innovative results than large firms, this being the case no matter if the firm cooperates or not.