The influence of firms' technological capabilities on export performance in supplier-dominated industries: the case of ceramic tiles firms
In this paper, we study the effects that firms' technological capabilities, as an expression of their technological innovation strategy, have on their international competitiveness. In doing so, we draw on export and international trade literature to justify the influence that the firms' technological activity has on their export performance. In addition, we use concepts derived from the literature on technological innovation to identify different capabilities that the firms may develop to manage their innovation process, i.e., those related to investment, production and co-operation. These constitute the basis of our hypothesis, in which the technological innovation capabilities identified are related to firms' export performance. Empirical work is carried out on a sample of 88 Spanish exporting firms belonging to the ceramic tiles industry, which is characterized as being a supplier-dominated industry. Data were mainly gathered through a postal survey directed at firm managers. Our findings show that technological innovation capabilities have a positive impact on export performance. Specifically, results show that investment in internal non-R&D innovative activities, such as engineering design and pre-production, exerts a positive influence on export performance. However, neither investment in R&D nor investment in external acquisition of technology exerts any influence on export performance. In addition, our findings show that production capabilities have a positive effect linked to both improvement and imitation of products and processes. Regarding co-operation, export performance is related to capabilities that derive from co-operation with universities and research institutes rather than co-operation with other companies.
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