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What kind of innovators performed best during the 2008 economic crisis?

The 2008 financial crisis substantially reduced innovation expenditures by companies. In a study among nearly 2,500 UK enterprises, researchers Archibugi c.s. (2013) found that a small group of firms was ‘swimming against the stream’ and by increasing their (share of) innovation efforts gained momentum. Who were these companies and how did they perform? In fact, it were two different and clearly distinguishable groups of firms. On the one side are what the authors call ‘creative accumulators’ that follow path-dependent trajectories to build knowledge, learning and technological innovation. Many more established and already successful high-tech firms are typical examples. On the other side are ‘creative destructors’: young, fast-growing firms that follow explorative strategies to develop new products and markets. While their agility helped the latter to cope best with changing environments and new opportunities during the crisis, both groups realised better starting positions for after the crisis. Hence: key for postrecession recovery is to support innovative accumulators already successful before a crisis that keep on investing as well as young, fast-growing start/scale-ups that explore new opportunities.


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