A Review of Academic Investigations of the Impact of Government Investments in Research and Innovation

In the interests of providing government policy makers and research managers with an appreciation of the scope, findings, and value of the academic literature, and of facilitating policy making that is informed by evidence, we conduct a systematic review of the recent academic literature on the impact of government investments in research and innovation. Our review considers 50 articles published in the leading academic journals between 2000 and 2012. We examine research on a wide range of research and innovation investments; from investments in basic research to R&D tax credits. We find that a wide variety of measures of the outputs and impacts of investments in research and innovation (over 30) were employed, and that most studies report a positive impact. Several studies point to the importance of investments in basic research, and provide support for theories of geographically-mediated knowledge spillovers and socially-embedded economic activity. We conclude that while the emergent state of knowledge on the design and assessment of government investments in research and innovation precludes the identification of best practices, an understanding of the literature, coupled with an understanding of contextual specifics, will enable the design of interventions and assessment methodologies that are informed by the best available evidence.

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