The role of human capital in lowering barriers to engage in innovation: evidence from the Spanish innovation survey

Pablo D'Este, Francesco Rentocchini, Jaider Vega-Jurado
Industry and Innovation
This paper focuses on the role of human capital in reducing the barriers to firms’ engagement
in innovation activities. The paper distinguishes between firms facing barriers that stop them from engaging in
any innovation activity, and firms that face impediments in the course of their innovation activity.
We investigate whether human capital has a particularly strong impact in relation to lowering barriers among
the former group of firms, since a strong skill base is likely to compensate for lack of experience in innovationrelated
activities or the complementary assets needed for innovation. We draw on four waves of the Spanish
Innovation Survey and examine the impact of human capital on three types of obstacles to innovation: cost,
knowledge and market barriers. We find that human capital has a significant impact on reducing the barriers to
innovation represented by knowledge shortages and market uncertainties.