Metrics of innovation: measuring the Italian gap
The paper surveys the literature on the measurement of innovation activity and evaluates the position of Italy with respect to the other major European countries.
As a complex and multidimensional phenomenon, innovation has been measured from different perspectives: the environment in which firms operate, firms’ commitment, its outcome. Both traditional and new measures of innovation are considered, using national accounts and survey data. A significant gap is found for Italy on most measures of innovation. Italy shows the largest gap for measures related to regulatory frameworks, ICT infrastructure and financial support for innovation expenditure. Italian firms stand out for the low level of input, especially R&D expenditure and the presence of graduates.
This feature is not just driven by the small average size of Italian firms: the analysis of expenditure by size shows that large Italian firms lag behind in the international comparison. Despite these premises, a relatively large share of Italian firms claim to innovate, even if their R&D expenditure is low. In defending intellectual property rights, firms rely more on industrial designs and trademarks than on patents. Overall, the survey confirms that innovation in Italy is more incremental than based on technology and R&D, therefore less able to increase firms’ productivity and overall growth.