Higher Education

, Volume 63, Issue 5, pp 607–620 | Cite as

Which firms want PhDs? An analysis of the determinants of the demand

  • Jose Garcia-Quevedo
  • Francisco Mas-Verdú
  • Jose Polo-Otero


PhD graduates hold the highest education degree, are trained to conduct research and can be considered a key element in the creation, commercialization and diffusion of innovations. The impact of PhDs on innovation and economic development takes place through several channels such as the accumulation of scientific capital stock, the enhancement of technology transfers and the promotion of cooperation relationships in innovation processes. Although the placement of PhDs in industry provides a very important mechanism for transmitting knowledge from universities to firms, information about the characteristics of the firms that employ PhDs is very scarce. The goal of this paper is to improve understanding of the determinants of the demand for PhDs in the private sector. Three main potential determinants of the demand for PhDs are considered: cooperation between firms and universities, R&D activities of firms and several characteristics of firms, size, sector, productivity and age. The results from the econometric analysis show that cooperation between firms and universities encourages firms to recruit PhDs and point to the existence of accumulative effects in the hiring of PhD graduates.


PhD University R&D Technology transfer 



The authors thank the Alto Consejo Consultivo en I+D of the Generalitat Valenciana and IMPIVA for facilitating access to the survey on which this article is based and, particularly, Manuel López Estornell and Emilio Cubel for preparing the questionnaire and the sample. We are grateful for the support of the CYD Foundation. Jose Garcia-Quevedo gratefully acknowledges support from the Spanish Ministry of Science and Education (ECO2010-16934) and from the Generalitat of Catalonia (2009SGR102). Francisco Mas-Verdú thanks the Spanish Ministry of Science and Education (Projects ECO2008-04708/ECON and ECO2010-16934). Previous versions of this paper were presented in the EUNIP International Workshop on the Role of Academic Research in Territorial Economic Development Processes (San Sebastian, Spain, November, 2009), in a academic seminar in Ingenio, CSIC-UPV (Valencia, Spain, December, 2009) and in the First Conference of the International Network of Business and Management Journals (INBAM, Valencia, Spain, June 2010). We are grateful for all the comments from participants and particularly to Adela Garcia and Joaquín Mª Azagra.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jose Garcia-Quevedo
    • 1
    • 2
  • Francisco Mas-Verdú
    • 1
    • 3
  • Jose Polo-Otero
    • 1
    • 4
  1. 1.Barcelona Institute of Economics (IEB)University of BarcelonaBarcelonaSpain
  2. 2.Department of Public EconomicsUniversity of BarcelonaBarcelonaSpain
  3. 3.Department of Economics and Social SciencesUniversidad Politécnica de ValenciaValenciaSpain
  4. 4.CYD FoundationBarcelonaSpain

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