Surveying innovation activities of enterprises has a long tradition in Germany. The first large-scale survey instrument dates back to 1979 when the Munich-based Ifo Institute introduced its ‘Ifo Innovation Test’. It used a methodology that was close to that later proposed in the Oslo Manual, distinguishing product and process innovation and collecting information on innovation activities and expenditure as well as some context information such as information sources for innovation, objectives of innovation activity and factors that hamper innovation. The survey is part of the Institute’s wider activities to collect information on business climate and expectations in the manufacturing sector. The sample of the Ifo Innovation Test is drawn from Ifo’s monthly business climate survey and is confined to the manufacturing sector (including mining and quarrying). Conducted annually since its start, the Ifo Innovation Test is probably the longest-lasting innovation panel survey in the world. Although it has influenced the methodological work on innovation surveys, the Ifo Innovation Test does not fully apply the standards set by the Oslo Manual or those by the EU Commission’s regulation on innovation statistics, which restricts international comparison. In addition, the survey’s size is confined to about 1000 observations per year, which further limits its analytical potential in terms of sector breakdown.
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