This study considers the role of national differences, derived from structural characteristics in each country, and how they impact on companies’ innovation. To do this we include in a firm-level empirical model of innovation traditional factors impacting on innovation, and measure any differences in these determinants between two countries: the UK (comprising more advanced regions) and Spain (which belongs to the “follower” groups of countries in Europe). Using the European Community Innovation Surveys (CIS4), we select two samples comprising private manufacturing firms and estimate a two-step Heckman model to explain firms’ innovation. Our results suggest that Spanish firms are at a different stage, with Spain lagging behind the UK in terms of being able to benefit from R&D. Thus in Spain, we find that public support is more important in promoting innovation activities; whereas linkages with international markets are more important for companies in the UK. Based on our results, we would argue that in order to reduce the technological gap between these two countries regional policies to promote innovation in Spain should concentrate more on the promotion of market relationships between co-located firms; while a greater exposure to internationalisation would benefit both countries.
NOTICE: this is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in Research policy. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version was subsequently published in Research policy, 43, 2, 2014, 10.1016/j.respol.2013.10.013