Innovation Strategies and Economic Crisis: Evidence from Firm-level Italian Data
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The disruptive economic downturn of the period 2008-2009, forced industrial firms to implement
strategies, in order to survive and to generate new competiveness sources. One of such strategic behaviours
regards the way of intervention on several innovation areas through different strategies. Disentangling
the effect of pre-crisis adopted innovations, industrial relations quality and economic performance
on such strategies may be of extreme relevance to analyse the nexus between the reactions to the challenges
brought by the crisis and the capacity of the firms to proactively tackle economic downturns.
The present work provides an empirical analysis on the basis of more than 500 Italian manufacturing
firms located in Emilia-Romagna region. The results suggest the existence of strong relationships between
pre-crisis innovative activities and the capacity to react to the challenges brought by the crisis. This
happens through innovative strategies, whose contents are mainly product (technological competitiveness),
process and organisation/HRM innovative dimensions (cost competitiveness/efficiency gaining). Complementary
innovative activities emerge as a key factor. Industrial relations quality is also related to the strategic
reaction to the crisis: more participative industrial relations support the adoption of diversified types
of innovation strategies. There is, instead, no evidence of a relation between past economic performance
and innovation actions in the crisis.