In Spain, is the expenditure on R&D a determining factor in its external competitiveness?

  • Rafael Pampillón Olmedo IE Business School and CEU San Pablo University
  • Rafael Pampillón Albert University of Navarre
Keywords: R&D, exports, competitiveness, innovation, technological development, productivity


This article has as its fundamental objective the study of the growth in Spanish exports —a fruit of better competitiveness— despite the low investment in Research and Development (R&D) in Spain.

Between 2010 and 2016 in Spain, the investment in R&D with respect to the GDP maintains a negative tendency, farther away from the average investment in R&D of the EU-28 that, in that same period, grows year over year.

However, this work reflects that Spain is an exception. One can affirm that Spanish competitiveness doesn’t adjust to its investments in R&D. It’s demonstrated that in recent years, the most developed countries have achieved a high level of competition thanks to technological development due to a bigger and better investment in innovation. Despite of its low investment in R&D, the exports of Spanish companies have been increasing progressively from 2010 to 2016, which has increased its percentage of all global exports

The causes of this imbalance between low investment in R&D and more competitiveness are, principally: the reduction of production cost, the fall of sales of Spanish companies in the national market and the development of factors such as infrastructure, health, education, and technological maturity that improve productivity and stimulate exports

This study concludes with a series of propositions to maintain this pattern of economic growth in Spain, by way of its competitiveness, and highlights the necessity of policies, that have promoted an increase in its exports and to incentivize a larger investment in innovation, following the example of other developed countries.


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Author Biographies

Rafael Pampillón Olmedo, IE Business School and CEU San Pablo University

IE Business School and CEU San Pablo University. Spain.

Rafael Pampillón Albert, University of Navarre

University of Navarre. Spain.

How to Cite
Pampillón Olmedo, R., & Pampillón Albert, R. (2017). In Spain, is the expenditure on R&D a determining factor in its external competitiveness?. Harvard Deusto Business Research, 6(3), 143-152.