Measuring China's innovative capacity: a stochastic frontier exercise

Chiara Franco, Riccardo Leoncini

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

9 Citations (Scopus)


We adopt a stochastic frontier analysis of innovative activity to disentangle countries’ patenting capacity from patenting efficiency.We analyse the determinants of innovative capacity of a set of 26 OECD countries plus China, over the period 1992–2007, to show if and how China’technological activity is growing faster than commonly held as compared to the most innovative countries of the world. Our results highlight that both internal and external elements jointly contribute to enhance countries’ innovative capacity and efficiency. In particular, while government-funded R&D is more important for innovative capacity, privately funded R&D as well as foreign direct investments (FDIs) affects technical efficiency (TE). Moreover, as for the whole set of countries, FDIs seem to exert a resource-seeking role (as they negatively affect TE), this does not happen for China, where FDIs exert a positive effect. Results are robust to the use of alternative measures of innovative inputs (such as higher education expenditure in R&D and R&D personnel, but also FDI flows rather than stocks). Finally, human capital measures are generally not very effective in enhancing patenting efficiency, apart from tertiary education.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)199-217
Number of pages19
JournalEconomics of Innovation and New Technology
Publication statusPublished - 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • China
  • innovation
  • stochastic frontier analysis


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