Since 2000, Germany has been experiencing a decline in research productivity, accompanied by a decrease in the number of technology-oriented start-ups as well as in the rate of innovators. This development indicates a lower willingness to implement innovations, as well as a declining economic success of research, development and innovation.

Against this background, the Wissenschaftsstatistik of Stifterverband and the Centre for European Economic Research (ZEW) are organising a workshop with the support of the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), which will focus on the diagnosis and cause analysis of this development as well as on approaches to innovation and economic policy measures.

This event, which will be held in German, aims to bring together scientists, practitioners, and policy-makers from relevant fields to discuss the phenomenon as well as measures and strategies of innovation policy to overcome these shortcomings. The workshop will feature five different panels entitled “Decline in Productivity Growth – Diagnosis and Cause Analysis”, “Decrease in Innovation Dynamics in the Business Sector”, “Digitalisation, Innovation and Productivity”, “Challenges for Innovation Policy” and “Lines of Action in Innovation Policy”. With the aim of providing a framework for fruitful discussions, various experts will give kick-off speeches on these topics.

Most industrialised countries have seen a significant decline in productivity growth, a trend which has become apparent in the last 15 years – and even more so since the economic and financial crisis. This development has set in motion an international debate, which has received great attention from international organisations (OECD 2015, The Future of Productivity) and researchers (Bloom et al. 2017, Are Ideas harder to find?). Some economic experts argue that this phenomenon can be either explained by secular stagnation, a technological interim phase, exploited basic technologies or increasing difficulties in adapting technological innovations. Other experts argue that the productivity slowdown is attributable to statistical measurement problems, referring to Solow’s much-quoted phrase “You can see the computer age everywhere but in the productivity statistics”, which later became known as the productivity paradox.

In terms of innovation activity, Germany is one of the leading economies in Europe. The international success of the German innovation system is not only represented by the fact that Germany recently nearly reached the European goal to increase R&D expenditures to 3% of GDP , but it is also confirmed by virtually all macroeconomic figures. Nevertheless, Germany also has experienced a decrease in both labour and total factor productivity. The past years have seen a decrease of the rate of innovators as well as in the number of technology-oriented start-ups. Companies have reacted to these developments in very different ways: While some firms have significantly increased their spending on R&D and innovation, other companies have limited their activities in these fields or decided to specialise in individual stages of the innovation process. This reduces the possibility of a wide range of technological potential being eventually unlocked in the future. “Hidden champions”, additionally, cover up the innovative potential of small and medium-sized enterprises.

Are the aforementioned developments in fact the result of multidimensional problems associated with the measuring of innovation, R&D and investment in new technologies? Do the established measuring methods adequately reflect their outputs and outcomes? Or do the available indicators in fact reflect current deficits in the German economy, thus signalling a future decrease in innovation dynamics? What challenges can be deduced from the well-established indicators? What are the deficits and how can we overcome them? And are we even measuring the right things?
In addition to the economic indicators, their limits and opportunities, the workshop will also address the causes behind these developments by shedding light on different problem-solving approaches. Furthermore, a number of other questions will be addressed during the event: What concepts and instruments of innovation policy should be used to combat these deficits? Which conclusions can be drawn from prior experiences with new instruments? And how can we assess their effectiveness?

The goal of the workshop is to assess and discuss existing analyses in the field. To this end, selected economic experts will give short statements in order to provide a basis for discussion between the panel members and the audience.

Scientific Organisation

Uwe Cantner

Friedrich Schiller University Jena, Commission of Experts for Research and Innovation

Verena Eckl


Alexander Gerybadze

University of Hohenheim

Gero Stenke

Stifterverband, Essen


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29.01.2018 - 30.01.2018

Event Location

Allianz Forum

Pariser Platz 6 10117 Berlin

Scientific Contact

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