Fact of the Week: Japanese Firms Increased Their Productivity in Robot Technology R&D After Cooperative Research with Government

Caleb Foote January 7, 2019
January 7, 2019

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Japanese firms increased their productivity in robot technology R&D by 13 percent after participating in cooperative research with government.

Source: Sébastien Lechevaliera, Yukio Ikedab, and Junichi Nishimurac, “The Effect of Participation in Government Consortia on the R&D Productivity of Firms: A Case Study of Robot Technology in Japan,” Institute of Economic Research Hitotsubashi University, discussion paper series A No. 500, March 2018.

Commentary: In 1983, the Japanese government began a series of robot technology R&D projects, which partnered with Japanese firms. New analysis of 25 years of these projects, from 1993 to 2008, found that not only did these projects create valuable results, they also caused participating firms to be more efficient in their future research.

Controlling for funding levels and past levels of productivity, firms increased their robot technology R&D productivity on independent projects by an average of 13 percent in the years following their participation in cooperative government research. Notably, this effect is significantly larger than what is observed in cooperative research conducted without government involvement, and it increased significantly after a reorganization of Japan’s R&D agencies, indicating that government involvement is important and that the benefits could grow drastically.