Ireland's Innovation Performance: 1991-2005

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In this paper we use data from the five waves of the Irish Innovation Panel (IIP) to profile the innovation performance of manufacturing plants in Ireland and Northern Ireland over the period 1991 to 2005. Despite considerable public sector investment on both sides of the border levels of innovation activity have remained broadly similar throughout this period although somewhat different trends are evident in Ireland and Northern Ireland. In terms of product innovation for example, the proportion of manufacturing plants making product changes has increased 5 per cent in Ireland and just over 7 per cent in Northern Ireland. In terms of process innovation a decline of almost 7 per cent in Ireland has been accompanied by a 7 per cent increase in Northern Ireland. These trends provide some evidence of convergence in innovation performance over the 1991 to 2005 period. This is evident in the narrowing gap between the proportion of product innovators in Ireland and Northern Ireland, convergence in the proportion of plants undertaking process innovation and in terms of the increasingly similar proportions of sales derived from innovative products. Looking in more detail at the determinants of manufacturing innovation emphasises the importance of R&D and backwards supply chain linkages as sources of new knowledge for innovation. Other external linkages prove less important suggesting the value of policy initiatives designed to promote knowledge sharing. We also find a significant negative innovation effect from legislative restrictions on plants’ product innovation. Public support for both product and process innovation are having positive effects on innovation outputs at the level of the individual plant. Future research interest centres on the contrast between this strong positive result at firm level and the more modest increases in innovation among the population of firms in Ireland and Northern Ireland.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)46-68
Number of pages23
JournalQuarterly Economic Commentary
Volume2008 (2)
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2008


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