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How to invest in r&d during a crisis? Exploring the differences between fast-growing and slow-growing Smes

Cristina Marullo, Andrea Piccaluga, Fabrizio Cesaroni


This paper examines the relationship between R&D investments, innovation and growth in high-technology SMEs during a period of economic downturn. We conduct a quantile regression analysis of longitudinal data collected on a panel of 460 high-technology SMEs over a 6 years period, to test the impact of different activities characterising firms’ innovation strategies (internal R&D investments, external knowledge sourcing through collaborative R&D and the introduction of new products to the market) over the distribution of firms’ growth. We show that the impact of R&D investments is considerably different over the distribution of growth for firms in the sample during a period of economic downturn. More specifically, two distinct profiles emerge. Younger, smaller and innovating companies still experience fast growth rates as a result of the introduction of new products to the market. Conversely, negative returns on R&D investments characterise slow-growing high-technology SMEs. In such cases, a balanced approach between internal R&D investments and collaborative R&D activities positively contributes to growth


SMEs, High-tech, Innovation, R&D management, Growth, Crisis.

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