The University and the Economy

The University and the Economy

Pathways to Growth and Economic Development

Aldo Geuna and Federica Rossi

This book provides readers with an in-depth understanding of the many ways in which universities contribute to economic development and growth. It demonstrates the causal interactions between universities’ activities and economic outcomes, and presents up-to-date quantitative and qualitative data in support. The authors present the theoretical tools and evidence to explain the manner and degree to which universities’ activities impact the economy, as well as analysing the comparative strengths and weaknesses of specific university systems.

Chapter 4: The economic role and impact of university research

Aldo Geuna and Federica Rossi

Subjects: business and management, management and universities, economics and finance, economics of education, economics of innovation, education, management and universities, innovation and technology, economics of innovation


An important challenge for advanced economies, whose competitiveness is founded on the capacity to remain at the spearhead of scientific and technological research, is that of guaranteeing that their domestic economic actors produce a ‘sufficient’ amount of knowledge and that this knowledge is efficiently diffused throughout the economic system. In fact, the competitiveness of these economies can no longer depend upon the reliance on low costs of labour and raw materials. In most advanced economies, and in an increasing number of those emerging, the ability to maintain positive rates of economic growth now necessarily rests on the capacity to maintain a high rate of innovation that guarantees steady productivity growth. For some decades now, economists have been faced with the problem of understanding what the most effective and efficient ways of supporting the production of knowledge are and how its diffusion among economic actors can best feed into innovation processes.

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