The sectoral structure of innovative activities in Italy : results and methodology.
The measurement of innovative activity is a critical issue of the
analysis of technological change. The first part of this dissertation argues
that the standard distinction between producer and user sectors of
innovation is a necessary but not sufficient condition to obtain a
satisfactory accounting framework of technological change. A further
distinction between the subjects (such as firms) and the objects (the
innovations themselves) of technological change is needed. An empirical
application is provided with a matrix of patents by firms and
technological fields which allows to find out "who innovates where" in
the Italian economy.
Using technological indicators such as R&D. patenting and a survey
on 24.000 Italian business units. the second part of the thesis identifies the
quantitative characteristics of the Italian innovation system. An
international comparison of the technological potential of the country is
performed. and it shows that Italy is still lagging behind the most
advanced countries in the volume of her technological activities. Her
sectoral strengths are to be found in mature technologies while her
weaknesses are in fields, such as electronics and information
technologies, expected to have a growing impact on future economic
The industrial organization underlying Italian technological
specialization is also considered, showing that the country's fields of
excellence are seldom related to the innovative activities of the largest
firms. No significant connection emerged between the degree of
industries' concentration on the one hand and technological
specialization on the other.
The sources of innovative activity are- identified, and significant
cross-industry and cross-size differences emerged. A taxonomy by
industries is presented where concentration ratios, the nature and sources
of innovation are taken as distinguishing criteria. This taxonomy, rather
than stressing the role of small or large firms, suggests that sectoral
differences explain more than it is generally believed in understanding
technological change in Italy.