The performance of the New Zealand (NZ) economy is something of an enigma. Although ranked one (of 144 countries) for four important ‘growth fundamentals’ NZ is ‘middle of the pack’ when it comes to economic growth, productivity and process innovation. Using four iterations (2005, 2007, 2009 and 2011) of the Business Operations Survey, this research seeks to shed some new light on this conundrum by using a multivariate probit regression (mvprobit) approach applied to pooled samples in excess of 22,000 unit record observations of NZ firms.
The results suggest that factors including firm size, high perceived quality, investment/research and development (R&D) capability, major technology change, application of formal IP protection and new export markets are systematically and positively related to innovation; while many external issues, such as those related to geography, market structure, business environment, have little influence. At the firm level, innovations in NZ are highly dependent on the firms’ internal ability to develop new technologies and market demand. The (very small) size of firms does matter in NZ, which lacks a major ‘home market’ or a major trade block on its doorstep, such that ultimately, government may need to be involved to maintain a viable scale for domestic R&D.
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Hong, Shangqin, Les Oxley, Philip McCann and Trinh Le (2016). Why firm size matters: Investigating the drivers of innovation and economic performance in New Zealand using the Business Operations Survey. Applied Economics, 48(55):5379-5395. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/00036846.2016.1178843
Marsden Fund of the Royal Society of New Zealand