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Development of novel approaches to the analysis and modelling behavior of innovation actors

Priority areas of development: economics

Research object: In year 2014 the research project continued the studies of actors and actor types within innovation systems, behavioral patterns and linkages as well as factors that determine the innovation process characteristics. Specifically, the studies covered innovation behavior of enterprises and research organisations, actors of the knowledge intensive business services market, labor market of highly skilled professionals, innovation behavior of population.

Research objectives:

  1. Provision of theoretical and practical concepts, methodologies, tools and data for analysing the national innovation system, and the behaviour of and interactions among its elements.
  2. Study of individual actors and actor types within the innovation system, exploring and understanding the specificities of their organisation and behaviour, explaining how these features are determined and are evolving, and examining how agency is expressed in their objectives and strategies.
  3. Development of policy- and strategy-relevant knowledge about innovation processes and systems, including analysis of the institutional and contextual influences upon the extent, direction, and efficiency of innovation efforts.

Specific objectives for 2014:

  1. Developing an integrated harmonized approach to measuring R&D personnel
  2. Analysis of the technology transfer and the role of RTOs in the science-based innovations and industry-science relations
  3. Advancing approaches to the measuring and modelling of the R&D skills
  4. Modeling the heterogeneity of demand on innovation policy instruments
  5. Knowledge intensive business services: modeling actors and markets
  6. User and community innovation: study of innovations developed in amateur Do It Yourself communities.

Empirical Base of Research:

  1. Russian branch of European Manufacturing Survey (HSE Project Monitoring of Innovation Activities of Enterprises, since 2009)
  2. Monitoring of Innovation Activities of Research Performing Organisations (HSE Project, since 2010).
  3. Surveys of intellectual service providers and consumers (HSE).
  4. Surveys of the activities of innovation behavior of population (HSE)
  5. Surveys of competences and skills of highly skilled professionals (HSE)
  6. Statistical indicators of science, technology and innovation
  7. Expert interviews

Results of Research:

1. Developing an integrated harmonized approach to measuring R&D personnel

Measuring the number of individuals engaged in research and development (R&D) is one of the most important and struggling methodological issues in the international statistics of science, technology and innovation (STI). R&D is and will have to be only performed by humans, therefore accurate measurement of individual engagement in R&D performance, time devoted to relevant activities, related labour and other costs is of great importance.

Existing framework of R&D measurement introduced in the Frascati Manual provides recommendations on definition and approaches to data collection on personnel engaged in knowledge production. At the same time serious methodological differences, driven from national practices of statistical measurement do not allow accurate treatment of human resources in R&D for a variety of international comparisons.

In particular this applies to estimates of the so-called full-time equivalent (FTE) in science. Main difficulties are caused by the very notion of FTE and its relation to research work and national employment regulations. The operational interpretation and measurement vary depending on the parameters taken into account such as the type of legal employment arrangements with R&D performing units, the nature of the activities performed by certain categories of personnel, time actually spent on R&D, etc. These and other issues define the scope of expert discussions in this direction and agenda of research laboratories in the short term.

The aim of the project, implemented by the laboratory with the support of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) is to develop an integrated approach to measuring the number of personnel engaged in R&D. The subject of the analysis serves to both improving existing methodological recommendations and developing national statistical practices. The infobase of the project covers results of an empirical study implemented in 28 OECD countries and series of expert consultations with the member of the OECD Working Party of National Experts on Science and Technology Indicators (NESTI).

A generalization of national experience allowed revising basic definitions, developing recommendations for measurement of R&D personnel in terms of headcounts and FTEs (including calculation formula), clarifying approaches to treatment of on-site consultants, doctorate and master students, and other types of individuals engaged in R&D, etc. The results were first presented at the annual NESTI Conference in June 2014. Then in accordance with the comments received from international experts the series of proposed recommendations were transformed into a new version of the Frascati Manual chapter to be introduced at the specialised workshop organised by the OECD on 11-12 December 2014.

2. Technology transfer and the role of RTOs in the science-based innovations and industry-science relations

This year the studies of RTO’s behavior utilized the opportunities of the analysis of the intertemporal peculiarities that emerged form the novel datasets. The time period covered 2009 to 2012 reporting years which allowed to analyze the impact of the 2008 economic crisis. The goal of the 2014 study was to define factors and modes of the Russian RTOs’ technology transfer strategies and their dynamics over time. The evaluation has shown that the 2008 crisis considerably influenced the Russian technology markets. In 2009-2012 the way the RTOs’ technology transfer revenues correlated with factors like attraction of public research funds, quality control policies, collaborative research efforts, R&D performance, and recruitment strategies, changed dramatically.

3. Advancing approaches to the measuring and modelling of the R&D skills

The studies continued to explore the methodologies of conceptual description and empirical categorization of the skills and competences exploited in the R&D sector. The stockpile of analyses resulted in a number of conclusions and implications:

  • The supply of skills is driven by a combination of factors that influence the size of the potential workforce: demographic change (including migration), patterns of participation in the labour market, participation in education and training, and investment in human capital (i.e. the demand for learning). The latter are dependent on decisions made by individuals, learning providers, government and employers as well as on the returns to education and training for both individuals and employers which will affect the scale and pattern of investment in human capital;
  • The employers’ demand for skills is shaped by the general economic activity levels, changing demand for goods and services and by the business strategies adopted by employers in meeting that demand. The demand for goods and services is itself influenced by a number of external drivers. These include technological change and globalisation and specialisation. Technological change drives the development of new products and services that satisfy, and often lead, consumer and business demand;
  • The major challenge for the future economy is to raise the demand for skills by moving up the value chain and encouraging more businesses to adopt high value added, skill intensive patterns of behaviour.

These findings serve as a basis for elaborating general models of R&D-skilled labor markets to be presented in the forthcoming article.

Modeling the heterogeneity of demand on innovation policy instruments

This project continued the studies of the heterogeneity of innovation actor’s behavior. This year major focus was on the demand on innovation policy instruments with regard to specific organisational strategies. An empirical framework accounted for the utilization of tax incentives by the manufacturing enterprises, research organisations and univerisities performing R&D based on the results of a specialized survey.

Tax incentives have proven to be an efficient tool of state support for science, technology and innovation, and are used by many countries on their way towards sustainable development and enhancing global competitiveness. Fiscal stimuli are increasingly combined in a more flexible manner, thus contributing to attaining wider spectrum of objectives; means of international comparison and evaluating impact of these tools are actively evolving. However, despite the fact that for many countries the tax incentives are demandable and work effectively, Russia's situation is different.

The study demonstrated that such a demand is generally low for all types of surveyed organizations, probably due to both the imperfection of the Russian tax legislation, which makes the considered tool inefficient, and low share of the organizations engaged in R&D and innovation. Among the most frequently noted demotivating factors were mismatch of organization’s activity to the terms of using a specific tax break, as well as unwarranted costs associated with the need to prove the right to use these breaks. When using a specific tax incentive, the research institutions typically seek exemption from VAT for R&D activities and patent licensing operations, as well as benefit to mainstream targeted grants. Universities engaged in R&D are more likely to turn to the benefits for grants and accelerated depreciation of fixed assets used for scientific and technological activities.

The analysis showed that in Russia the public sector dominates among all categories of recipients of tax incentives for research and innovation. This situation is contrary to best practices and global trends in supporting research activities, which involve betting on strong national players (including startups and SMEs). It hardly allows STI tax incentives to be an efficient mean and provides a basis for the revision and optimization of these tools. The results indicate possible further directions in studying the heterogeneous demand on policy instruments beyond indirect taxation.

Knowledge intensive business services: actors and markets

Knowledge intensive services are remarkable due to the high degree of collaboration between service providers and consumers (referred to as co-production), which is believed to remove the asymmetry of information between the two parties. Yet empirical findings indicate that the two parties disagree in their estimates of the degree of customization (individualization) of the service, which cannot be explained with asymmetric information. In 2014 the LEI researchers has developed a model of an asymmetric perception that explains this phenomenon that also references the propensities to innovation-driven intellectual service development. Asymmetric perception arises when the parties differ in their valuation of [possibly symmetric] information coming from different sources. Through a comparative statics exercise we are able to explain the reduction in asymmetric perception with an improvement in customers' experience, as well as a reversal of asymmetry in perception when the market shrinks. Asymmetric perception is shown to have negative implications for social welfare as well as the overall innovation performance of the intellectual services; we suggest measures aimed at its reduction.

User and community innovation: study of innovations developed in amateur Do It Yourself communities

The study continued the people-centric line of innovation studies by investigating the innovation activity in an amateur community. It implemented the case study method to analyze the intensive innovation creation process that was going on in the whitewater paddling community during the last two decades of the twentieth century. The researchers applied the notion innovative agency of users and community to get a deeper understating of the process of innovation creation, and to identify all actors of innovation. Further, the process of innovative agency delegation between actors has been traced. One key observation is that two radical innovations and many incremental innovations emerged in this community. We concluded that their emergence was shaped by creative and competitive environment of the whitewater paddling community. Further we analysed the performance of a user firm that was set up by the community members in the beginning of nineties. The conceptual and methodological framework behind this study showed promising results and seems to be applicable to the analysis of community-driven innovation of different nature and origin.

Level of implementation, recommendations on implementation or outcomes of the implementation of Results: theresults were communicated via a number of highly praised scientific and expert platforms, including OECD Expert Groups, international conferences, including XV HSE April Conference (Moscow), Micro Evidence for Innovation and Development Economies and a number of research seminars. The discussion of results influenced applied projects performed by HSE in the areas of policy advice, including the projects for Ministry of Economic Development, Ministry of Science and Education.

Field of application: development of theoretical and methodological approaches for the analysis of innovation systems’ components and functions; development of empirical studies of science, technology and innovation; production of policy-relevant knowledge on the approaches for stimulating the efficiency and intensity of innovation across the economy sectors.


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