The Causal Effects of Competition on Innovation: Experimental Evidence

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The authors design two laboratory experiments to analyze the causal effects of competition on step-by-step innovation. Innovations result from costly R&D investments and move technology up one step. Competition is inversely measured by the ex post rents for firms that operate at the same technological level, that is, for neck and-neck firms. First, the authors find that increased competition leads to a significant increase in R&D investments by neck-and-neck firms. Second, increased competition decreases R&D investments by firms that are lagging behind, in particular if the time horizon is short. Third, increased competition affects industry composition by reducing the fraction of sectors where firms are neck-and-neck.