XREAP2011-22: The Innovation and Imitation Dichotomy in Spanish firms: do absorptive capacity and the technological frontier matter?

This paper analyses whether a firm’s absorptive capacity and its distance from the technological frontier affect the choice between innovation and imitation in innovative Spanish firms. From an extensive survey of 5,575 firms during the 2004-2009 period, we found two significant results. With regard to the role of absorptive capacity, the empirical evidence shows that when innovative firms have difficulties in accessing external information and hire skilled workers, their innovative capacity is reduced. Meanwhile, with regard to distance from the technological frontier, the firms that reduce this gap manage to increase their innovative capacity at the expense of imitation. To summarise, when we studied firms’ absorptive capacity and their relative position to the technological frontier in tandem, we found that the two factors directly affected firms’ ability to innovate or imitate.

Gombau, V. (GRIT); Segarra, A. (GRIT)