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PhD defence: Leonard Sabetti

Published on December 11, 2020 Updated on December 11, 2020
Le 15 December 2020 De 15:00 à 17:00

Innovation and Entrepreneurship: Empirical evidence using micro data


Alexandru Minea, Professor, Université Clermont Auvergne
Marcel Voia, Professor, Université d’Orléans
John S. Earle, Professor, George Mason University
Angelo Secchi, Professor, Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne
Jean-Louis Combes, Professor, Université Clermont Auvergne
Kim P. Huynh, Director, Bank of Canada


This thesis comprises four empirical essays on innovation and entrepreneurship using firm-level microdata. The proliferation of such data has led to greater understanding of the underlying drivers and dynamics of economic growth at the macro level, enabling enhanced and evidence-based public policy. The main contribution of the thesis resides in the use of new survey data across different contexts with enhanced questions on firm innovation activities. These questions were modeled on the Oslo Manual Guidelines published jointly by the OECD and Eurostat to foster an internationally recognized methodology for business innovation statistics. Micro-econometric and program evaluation methods guided the analysis. Chapter 1 examines the relationship between innovation and performance for a sample of over 30,000 firms in developing countries from recent surveys collected by the Enterprise Survey Unit of the World Bank. We find that returns to innovation are positive and large but vary substantially according to innovation type and degree of novelty. Moreover, R&D plays a more pronounced role for radical innovation. Utilizing the same dataset, chapter 2 investigates the relationship between innovation and employment. Our analysis highlights the role of product innovation as the main channel for employment creation. We also found a lack of negative impact from process innovation, potentially due to a skill composition effect. Chapter 3 concerns the effects of innovation and financing on both survival and growth for a sample of roughly 4,000 firms in the United States based on an 8-year survey launched in 2004 and overlapping with the Great Recession of 2008-2009. Firms in the high-tech sector are more likely to survive; they display an inverted U-shaped exit rate. While initial financing levels positively affect survival, the effects are reversed during the Great Recession, underlining the role of financial dependence and the business cycle. Startups that introduce new products to market display higher growth rates. We investigate a potential mechanism whereby innovative firms are more likely to obtain additional rounds of external financing. The results highlight the role of incorporating direct measures of innovation for firm heterogeneity. In the final chapter, we study a sample of manufacturing firms in Italy to uncover drivers of firm R&D expenditures. We estimate a crowding-in effect of roughly thirty percentage points for firms that report cooperation with the university sector on R&D projects and contrast these findings in terms of the impact from fiscal subsidies such as tax credits. Findings of the thesis have relevance for public policy around innovation and entrepreneurship and for maximizing public sector returns on investment.


Innovation, Productivity, Automation, Developing countries, New firm entry, Duration models, Entrepreneurial finance, Entrepreneurship, R&D, Knowledge spillovers, University-industry cooperation, Labor demand, Technological change, Invention, Firm behavior.