Innovation and Foreign Technology in Italy, 1861-2011

Italy and the World Economy, 1861-2011 Conference, Rome, Banca d’Italia, 12-15 October 2011

Bank of Italy Economic History Working Paper No. 7

87 Pages Posted: 16 Mar 2013

See all articles by Federico Barbiellini Amidei

Federico Barbiellini Amidei

Bank of Italy

John A. Cantwell

Rutgers Business School - Newark and New Brunswick

Anna Spadavecchia

University of Reading

Date Written: October 25, 2011

Abstract

The paper explores the long run evolution of Italy's performance in technological innovation as a function of international technology transfer, reconstructing the different phases and dimensions of Italian innovative activity, tracking the transfer of foreign technological knowledge through a number of channels, analysing the impact of imported technology. The study is based on a newly constructed dataset, over the 1861-2009 period, composed of variables related to: innovation activity performance; foreign technology transfer; domestic absorptive and innovative capability. The analysis highlights, also by econometric assessment, the significant contribution of foreign technology both to innovation activity results and to productivity growth. Differences across channels of technology transfer and historical phases emerge, also in connection with the evolution of human capital endowment and domestic innovative capacity. Machinery imports contributed positively both to innovation activity and to productivity growth; inward FDI contributed positively to productivity growth, but not to indigenous innovation activity; the accumulation of technical human capital fuelled both. In the long Italian Golden Age, for the first time the association of foreign technological knowledge with indigenous innovation processes strengthened productivity significantly. More recently instead the dismal productivity growth is negatively associated with formalised innovation activity under-performance and reduced imports of disembodied technology.

Keywords: Italy, technology transfer, innovation, absorptive capability, patenting

JEL Classification: N10, O31, O33, F23, O19

Suggested Citation

Barbiellini Amidei, Federico and Cantwell, John A. and Spadavecchia, Anna, Innovation and Foreign Technology in Italy, 1861-2011 (October 25, 2011). Italy and the World Economy, 1861-2011 Conference, Rome, Banca d’Italia, 12-15 October 2011, Bank of Italy Economic History Working Paper No. 7, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2233841 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2233841

Federico Barbiellini Amidei (Contact Author)

Bank of Italy ( email )

Via Nazionale 91
Rome, 00184
Italy

John A. Cantwell

Rutgers Business School - Newark and New Brunswick ( email )

1 Washington Park
Newark, NJ 07102
United States

Anna Spadavecchia

University of Reading ( email )

Greenlands
Reading, Henley on Thames RG6 6AH
United Kingdom

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