Innovative start-ups are an important driver of economic growth. This article presents empirical evidence on the effects of research and development (R&D) on new product development, interfirm alliances and employment growth during the early life course of firms. We use a dataset that contains a sample of new firms that is representative of the whole population of start-ups. This dataset covers the first 6 years of the life course of firms. It is revealed that R&D plays several roles during the early life course of high-tech as well as high-growth firms. The effect of initial R&D on high-tech firm growth is through increasing levels of interfirm alliances in the first post-entry years. R&D efforts enable the exploitation of external knowledge. Initial R&D also stimulates new product development later on in the life course of high-tech firms, but this does not seem to affect firm growth. R&D does not affect the growth rate of new low-tech firms, which seem to be driven mainly by the growth ambitions of the founding entrepreneur. The results show that R&D matters for a limited but important set of new high-tech and high-growth firms, which are key in innovation and entrepreneurship policies.
Small Business Economics – Springer Journals
Published: Apr 1, 2009
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