How does market competition affect firm innovation incentives in emerging countries? Evidence from Latin American firms

J. M. Benavente & Pluvia Zuniga


The role of market competition on firm innovation remains a controversial policy question, especially in the context of developing countries. This paper presents new empirical evidence about the impact of market competition on firm innovation engagement in Colombian and Chilean manufacturing industries. We correct for the endogeneity of market competition using instruments proxying entry costs and policy interventions (i.e. competition decisions and entry law reforms), our results are like those of developed countries. Market competition increases firm propensity to invest in innovation in manufacturing enterprises and this relationship is linear in Chilean while in Colombian industries it takes the form of an inversed-U shape relation. The impact of competition is decreasing with the level of sector asymmetry -as preconised in the literature, while the impact of firm distance to the frontier affects firm innovation engagement differently in the two countries. In Chile, competition raises innovation incentives for the third and fourth productivity quartiles while no impact is found for firms in the first (bottom) two quartiles. In contrast, in Colombia market competition raises innovation engagement across regardless their firm productivity position but effects are stronger in the medium range (second and third quartiles). Our main results are robust to controlling for past innovation engagement, import competition and business dynamics.

Keywords: Market Competition, Innovation, Technology Purchasing, Productivity, Latin American Firms

JEL Classification: O32, D41, O47, D24

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