Persistent heterogeneity of R&D intensities within sectors: Evidence and policy implications

Alex Coad*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Citations (Scopus)


Do firms in the same sector converge towards the same R&D intensities? Previous research has often assumed this to be true. A closer examination, using microdata from the EU Industrial R&D Investment Scoreboard for the years 2000–2015, shows considerable heterogeneity in R&D intensities among firms in the same sector, and that this heterogeneity persists over time. Statistical tests of convergence show that the variation in R&D intensities does not decrease over time (i.e. no σ-convergence), although firms with an R&D intensity below the industry average do seem to catch up with the leaders (i.e. evidence of β-convergence). Overall, firms in the same industry do not converge to a common R&D intensity. Policy implications are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)37-50
Number of pages14
JournalResearch Policy
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2019 Feb
Externally publishedYes


  • Benchmarking
  • Convergence
  • Evolutionary theory
  • Heterogeneity
  • R&D intensity
  • R&D investment
  • Sectoral systems of innovation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Strategy and Management
  • Management Science and Operations Research
  • Management of Technology and Innovation


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