Fifteen years after the Global Financial Crisis: Recessions and Business Cycles in the History of Economic Thought

Innovation in Times of Crisis: Schumpeter's Insights on Innovation and R&D

Knell Mark, NIFU Nordic institute for studies of innovation, research and education

Joseph Schumpeter's theory of innovation highlights the significance of R&D and innovation during times of crisis. While Schumpeter viewed innovation as pro-cyclical, increasing during economic expansion and decreasing during contraction, empirical evidence suggests that R&D investment is often counter-cyclical, rising during economic downturns. Innovation involves more than just R&D and includes entrepreneurship, market competition, and creative destruction. Although the overall level of innovation may decline during economic downturns, firms may still prioritize investing in R&D to remain competitive and prepare for future growth. In times of crisis, economic uncertainty can also present opportunities for breakthrough innovations as companies take risks in pursuing new ideas. Schumpeter's theory of creative destruction underscores the importance of innovation in replacing outdated industries and technologies with new ones, and crises can accelerate this process by compelling firms to adjust to new market conditions. Schumpeter's views on innovation have evolved over time, with his earlier work emphasizing the role of entrepreneurs as the driving force behind innovation. However, later analysis acknowledged the increasing role of managers and the routinization of innovation in oligopolistic markets, blurring the distinction between innovator and manager. These two models can be seen as creative destruction and technological accumulation, respectively. Nonetheless, Schumpeter's theory implies that R&D and innovation are crucial during times of crisis for firms to survive and thrive in uncertain environments. This paper aims to analyze the role of R&D and innovation during times of crisis, using Schumpeter's theory and empirical evidence to provide a historical perspective on firms' behavior and the impact of crises on innovation.

Area: Eshet Conference

Keywords: Economic crisis, Innovation, R&D (research and development), Business cycle, Procyclical vs. countercyclical, Schumpeterian perspective, Creative destruction

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