Quality & Quantity

, Volume 53, Issue 3, pp 1209–1238 | Cite as

The role of human capital in identifying the drivers of product and process innovation: empirical investigation from Italy

  • Luigi Aldieri
  • Cristian BarraEmail author
  • Concetto Paolo Vinci


Economists recognize that the local availability of higher human capital represents significant knowledge spillovers, especially for innovation process. This research question is tested on a sample of Italian manufacturing companies, originally edited by Mediocredito Centrale and currently carried out by the Capitalia Banking Group’s Research Department over two waves: 2001–2003 and 2004–2007. The aim of our work is to investigate the role of human capital (measured as educational level) for innovation process in particular contexts, where the highest educated people and the highest innovation levels are differently located. To this end, we select the Italy country, characterized by a relevant North-South economic divide. Our analysis suggests that the positive spillovers can arise because the firms generate more technology innovation than those located in areas with higher educational attainment workforce. The more efficient macro regions who produce highly skilled graduates have, in a sense, saturated their contribution on firms’ innovation (i.e. that have already reached their steady state). The role of some factors (size, technological and territorial) to the probability of firm’s innovation has also been investigated.


Product innovation Process innovation Human capital 

JEL classification

D22 O3 R1 


  1. Acemoglu, D.: A microfoundation for social increasing returns in human capital accumulation. Q. J. Econ. 111(3), 779–804 (1996)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Agasisti, T., Barra, C., Zotti, R.: Evaluating the efficiency of Italian public universities (2008–2011) in presence of (unobserved) heterogeneity. Socio Econ. Plan. Sci. 55, 47–58 (2017)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Alpaslan, B., Ali, A.: The spillover effects of innovative ideas on human capital. Rev. Dev. Econ. 22, 333–360 (2018)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Audretsch, D.B., Feldman, M.P.: R&D spillovers and the geography of innovation and production. Am. Econ. Rev. 86, 630–640 (1996)Google Scholar
  5. Barra, C., Zotti, R.: Investigating the human capital-growth nexus. Does the efficiency of universities matters? Int. Region. Sci. Rev. 40(6), 638–678 (2017)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Bartelsman, E.J., Doms, M.E.: Understanding productivity: lessons from longitudinal microdata. J. Econ. Lit. 38(3), 569–594 (2000)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Becker, G.S.: Human Capital. The University of Chicago Press, Chicago (1993)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Battu, H., Belfield, C.R., Sloane, P.J.: Human capital spillovers within the workplace: evidence for the Great Britain. Oxford Bull. Econ. Stat. 65, 575–594 (2003)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Blundell, R., Griffith, R., Van Reenen, J.: Knowledge stocks, persistent innovation and market dominance: evidence from a panel of British manufacturing firms, Institute for Fiscal Studies, Working Paper No. W93/19 (1993)Google Scholar
  10. Bogers, M., Foss, N.J., Lyngsie, J.: The “human side” of open innovation: the role of employee diversity in firm-level openness. Res. Policy 47, 218–231 (2018)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Botric, V., Bozic, L.: Human capital as barrier to innovation: post-transition experience. Int. J. Innov. Technol. Manag. 15, 1850033 (2018)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Cappellari, L., Jenkins, S.: Multivariate probit regression using simulated maximum likelihood. Stata J. 3, 221–222 (2003)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Caves, R.E.: Industrial organization and new findings on the turnover and mobility of firms. J. Econ. Lit. 36(4), 1947–1982 (1998)Google Scholar
  14. Ciccone, A., Peri, G.: Identifying human capital externalities: theory with applications. Rev. Econ. Stud. 73, 381–412 (2006)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Crépon, B., Duguet, E., Mairesse, J.: Research, innovation and productivity: an econometric analysis at the firm level. Econ. Innov. New Technol. 7, 115–158 (1998)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Crespi, G., Geuna, A., Nesta, L.: The mobility of university inventors in Europe. J. Technol. Transf. 32, 195–215 (2007)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Criaco, G., Minola, T., Migliorini, P., Serarols-Tarrés, C.: To have and have not: founders’ human capital and university start-up survival. J. Technol. Transfer 39(4), 567–593 (2013)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Dachs, B., Hud, M., Koehler, C., Peters, B.: Innovation, creative destruction and structural change: firm-level evidence from European countries. Ind. Innov. 24(4), 346–381 (2017)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Daniele, V.: Two Italies? Genes, intelligence and the Italian North-South economic divide. Intelligence 49, 44–56 (2015)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Dosi, G., Peters, B.: Technical change and industrial dynamics as evolutionary processes. In: Hall, B.A., Rosenberg, N. (eds.) Hanbook of the Economics of Innovation, pp. 52–126. Elsevier, Amsterdam (2010)Google Scholar
  21. Ederer, P.: The European Human Capital Index. The Lisbon Council. (2006). Accessed 30 Apr 2018
  22. Ganotakis, P.: Founders’ human capital and the performance of UK new technology based firms. Small Bus. Econ. 39, 495–515 (2012)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Hall, B., Lotti, F., Mairesse, J.: Evidence on the impact of R&D and ICT investments on innovation and productivity in Italian firms. Econ. Innov. New Technol. 22(3), 300–328 (2013)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Heirman, A., Clarysse, B.: How and why do research-based start-ups differ at founding? A resource-based configurational perspective. J. Technol. Transfer 29, 247–266 (2004)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Hofheinz, P.: EU 2020: why skills are key for Europe’s future. Policy Brief IV 1, 1–23 (2009)Google Scholar
  26. Kruger, J.J.: Productivity and structural change: a review of the literature. J. Econ. Surv. 22(2), 330–363 (2008)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Jaffe, A.: Real effect of academic research. Am. Econ. Rev. 79, 957–970 (1989)Google Scholar
  28. Llorca, R.: The impact of process innovations on firms productivity growth: the case of Spain. Appl. Econ. 34, 1007–1016 (2002)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Lundvall, B.A., Johnson, B.: The learning economy. J. Ind. Stud. 1, 23–42 (1994)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Maddala, G.S. (ed.): Limited-Dependent and Qualitative Variables in Econometrics. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge (1983)Google Scholar
  31. Marshall, A.: Principles of Economics. Macmillan, New York (1890)Google Scholar
  32. McGuirk, H., Lenihan, H., Hart, M.: Measuring the impact of innovative human capital on small firms’ propensity to innovate. Res. Policy 44, 965–976 (2015)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Moen, J.: Is mobility of technical personnel a source of R&D spillovers? J. Phys. Cap. Econ. 23, 81–113 (2005)Google Scholar
  34. Monfardini, C., Radice, R.: Testing exogenity in the bivariate probit model: a Monte Carlo study’. Oxford Bull. Econ. Stat. 70, 271–282 (2008)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Pavitt, K.: Sectoral patterns of technical change: towards a taxonomy and a theory. Res. Policy 13(6), 343–373 (1984)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Peters, B.: Persistence of innovation: stylised facts and panel data evidence. J. Technol. Transfer 34(2), 226–243 (2009)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Roberts, E.B.: Entrepreneurs in High Technology: Lessons from MIT and Beyond. Oxford University Press, Oxford (1991)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Sena, V., Higon, D.A.: Productivity, R&D spillovers and educational attainment. Oxford Bull. Econ. Stat. 76(1), 1–23 (2014)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Soboleva, I.: Paradoxes of the measurement of human capital. Probl. Econ. Transit. 52(11), 43–70 (2010)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Wilde, J.: Identification of multiple equation probit models with endogenous dummy regressors. Econ. Lett. 69, 309–312 (2000)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Wixe, S.: Neighbourhood related diversity, human capital and firm innovation. Pap. Reg. Sci. 97, 217–252 (2018)CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Luigi Aldieri
    • 1
  • Cristian Barra
    • 1
    Email author
  • Concetto Paolo Vinci
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Economic and Statistic SciencesUniversity of SalernoFiscianoItaly

Personalised recommendations