Review of Industrial Organization

, Volume 12, Issue 2, pp 243–258

From Which Source Do Small Firms Derive Their Innovative Inputs? Some Evidence from Italian Industry

  • Roberta Piergiovanni
  • Enrico Santarelli
  • Marco Vivarelli

DOI: 10.1023/A:1007781501147

Cite this article as:
Piergiovanni, R., Santarelli, E. & Vivarelli, M. Review of Industrial Organization (1997) 12: 243. doi:10.1023/A:1007781501147


This paper relies upon the hypothesis that the “knowledge production function” – defined in the geographical sense – is characterized by coefficient estimates which vary with firm size. In particular, large firms depend for their innovative output on direct and indirect R&D inputs, whereas small firms more extensively exploit the spillovers from research activities carried out by universities and by other firms. This hypothesis is tested against two different sets of data: the first based on patent statistics and dealing with 20 Italian regions over the period 1978–86; the second consisting of a selected number of product innovations identified by a literature-based counting procedure and dealing with 46 Italian provinces in year 1989. The results of regression analysis support the hypothesis that firms belonging to different size classes resort to different sources for the knowledge relevant to their innovative output. In particular, industry R&D prove to play a relatively more important function than do spillovers from university research in generating innovative output in large firms, whereas the opposite is true in the case of small firms.

R&D spilloversproduct innovationfirm size

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1997

Authors and Affiliations

  • Roberta Piergiovanni
    • 1
  • Enrico Santarelli
    • 2
  • Marco Vivarelli
    • 3
  1. 1.Dipartimento di Contabilità Nazionale e Analisi EconomicaIstat (National Statistical Office of Italy)Rome
  2. 2.Dipartimento di Scienza EconomicheUniversità di Bologna (Italy)Bologna
  3. 3.Facoltà di EconomiaUniversità Cattolica di Piacenza (Italy)PiacenzaItaly