Infoscience

Thesis

The link between innovation and finance: evidence from survey data

This thesis comprises three essays on the relationship between innovation and finance. Although previous research has acknowledged the multi-faceted nature of innovation, this thesis unpacks its constituent elements, compares alternative drivers of innovation — focusing on the role of financial variables —, and explores when each of these drivers is important relative to the others. Evidence is based on survey data on Italian manufacturing firms over the years 1995-2003. The main contribution of this dissertation is to show how innovation at the firm level varies across different dimensions, documenting several robust empirical regularities, which must be accounted for. The first essay explores the determinants of various characteristics on the propensity to innovate in the Italian manufacturing sector. First, we concentrate on firms characteristics, and include in the study age of firm, size of firm, export shares of revenues and group membership. Second, we examine industry characteristics, such as type of industry in terms of technology level and market concentration. We also test the impact of characteristics of the firm's geographical area, including an indicator of financial development for the firm region. We finally extend our model including financial variables at the firm level in order to evaluate the association between profitability & risk and innovation. The second essay further examines the determinants of innovation, focusing on why firms develop product innovations rather than process innovation, or product and process innovations simultaneously. Empirical studies have highlighted the different impact of product and process innovation on various factors (such as, for example, international competitiveness, the level of employment and the types of skills used, and on the profit rate of firms). However, little is known from either a theoretical or an empirical point of view about the determinants of these different types of innovation. The third essay examines the question of whether access to credit is empirically more difficult for innovative firms than for those undertaking traditional investment projects. The idea that market financing of innovative projects is likely to encounter severe obstacles is not new. Indeed, it dates back at least to Schumpeter's defence of monopoly power since it not only guarantees that innovative firms can internalise the benefits of their innovations, but also provides funding for future innovative projects. Testing this proposition requires information on the innovative content of a given firm and on the limits to borrowing it encounters. Using the above mentioned survey data, we are able to identify credit constrained firms and use this information to make inferences on bank's lending strategies towards firms whose investment projects differ according to expected return and riskiness.

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