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Internationalization and Innovation of Firms: Evidence and Policy


We use a representative and cross-country comparable sample of manufacturing firms (EFIGE) to document patterns of interaction among firm-level internationalization, innovation and productivity across seven European countries (Austria, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Spain, United Kingdom). We find strong evidence of positive association among the three firm-level characteristics across countries and sectors. We also find that the positive correlation between internationalization and innovation survives after controlling for productivity, with some evidence of causality running from the latter to the former. Our analysis suggests that export promotion per se is unlikely to lead to sustainable internationalization because internationalization goes beyond export and because, in the medium-to-long term, internationalization is driven by innovation. We recommend coordination and integration of internationalization and innovation policies ‘under one roof’ at both the national and EU levels, and propose a bigger coordinating role for EU institutions.


Carlo Altomonte, Tommaso Aquilante, Gábor Békés and Gianmarco I. P. Ottaviano

11 April 2014     Paper Number CEPSP32

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This CEP report is published under the centre's Trade programme.