Who leads research productivity change? Guidelines for R&D policy-makers

Economic analysis working paper series

We rely on efficiency and productivity analysis based on Malmquist indices to evaluate to what extent policy-makers have been able to promote the creation and consolidation of comprehensive research groups that contribute to the implementation of a successful innovation system. We suggest that this dynamic evaluation offers relevant information to current ex-post policy evaluation methods, helping decision makers to readapt and reorient policies and their associated means, most notably
resource allocation (financial schemes), to better respond to the actual needs of promising research groups in their search for excellence (micro-level perspective), and to adapt future policy design to the achievement of medium-long term policy objectives (meso and macro level perspectives). We apply this methodology to the case of the Spanish R&D Food Technology Program finding that a large size and a comprehensive multi-dimensional research output are the key features of the leading groups
exhibiting high efficiency and productivity levels. Identifying these groups as benchmark, we conclude that the financial grants allocated by the program, typically aimed at small-sized and partially oriented research group, have no succeeded in reorienting them in time so as to overcome their limitations.