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

Pablo D'Este, Francesco Rentocchini, Jaider M. Vega Jurado
This paper focuses on the role of human capital in attenuating the barriers that block firms from engaging in innovation activities. The paper distinguishes between firms facing deterring barriers to innovation (firms deterred from engaging in innovation activities) and firms confronting revealed barriers (firms that experience barriers alongside their engagement in innovation activities). We investigate whether human capital has a particularly strong impact in lowering barriers among the former group of firms, since a strong skill base is likely to compensate for the lack of previous experience in innovation-related activities or the necessary complementary assets associated to 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 obstacles. Results reveal that human capital has a significant impact in attenuating deterring barriers to innovation associated to knowledge shortages and market uncertainties.