Economics - Innovation - Inclusive Growth

About

My speciality is in industrial economics and the economics of growth and this is the focus of my work as R.M.Phillips Professor in the Economics of Innovation at the University of Sussex (SPRU), Visiting Professor in Economics of Innovation at the Open University (UK), as Economics Director of the ESRC Centre for Social and Economic Research of Innovation in Genomics (Innogen); and as Scientific Coordinator of a 3 year EC FP7 project on Finance, Innovation and Growth (FINNOV, 2009-2012).

Research

The primary interest of research is the feedback between the innovative efforts of companies (in both organisational and technological change) and the impact this has on their growth and the structure of the industry in which they compete.
The effect of these dynamics on how the stock market values firms, and the potential “bubble” type dynamics (such as the dot.com bubble) is also a key concern.

In some industries innovation leads to a more concentrated market structure (with very few companies), while in others it opens up the process of competition allowing the industry to be inhabited by many companies. I undertake empirical work which sheds light on questions like:

  • Under which conditions are small vs large firms better innovators?
  • Under which conditions does innovation lead to a more concentrated vs. competitive industry structure, or a more stable vs. unstable one?
  • How can financial markets be restructured to reward rather than penalise innovative firms?

Recent work has linked these questions to the dynamics of stock price volatility, uncovering the possible links between innovation and stock price bubbles. Here the main questions are:

  • Does innovation affect the degree to which a company’s stock price is more volatile than its underlying earnings (the ‘excess volatility’)?
  • Are technology driven bubbles different from real-estate driven ones?
  • Innovation is extremely uncertain: how does the division of ‘innovative labour’ map into the division of returns from this risk taking behaviour?

Policy links

The answers to these questions have important implications for economic policy:

  • antitrust policy – does it matter if there are only two companies as long as they are competing via innovation?
  • innovation policy – is the Lisbon agenda target of getting EC countries to spend 3% of their GDP on R&D useless if the wrong company specific conditions are in place?
  • financial policy – how can financial markets be structured so that they reward rather than penalise innovative firms.

If you are interested in some of these questions, and want to find out about some interesting new results, please read FINNOV’s latest policy brief.

Cities and places

I was born in Rome, Italy (1968) to parents from Padova near Venice; lived and ‘grew up’ with my parents and two siblings in Princeton, NJ (1973-1986) where my father worked as a nuclear physicist at Princeton University’s PPPL (retired in 2012), attended Princeton High School (1982-1986), went to study undergraduate History, International Relations, and Latin American Studies at Tufts University near Boston in Medford, Massachussetts (1986-1990—great classes by Phil Mirowski on the history of economic thought), did my ‘junior year abroad studying Political Economy at the Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico (UNAM, 1989) in Mexico City.

After graduation I worked here and there, including research for the National Labor Committee and the ACTWU (now UNITE) labor union in NYC; did a Masters and then PhD in Economics at the New School for Social Research in New York City (1994-1998, great classes in Marxist Economics, Post-Keynesian Economics, Neo-RicardianEconomics, and Evolutionary Economics by Anwar Shaikh, Duncan Foley, Willi Semmler, Ed Nell, John Eatwell, Pierangelo Garegnani), conducted some of my PhD research at the Santa Fe Institute in Santa Fe, New Mexico, Bocconi University in Milan (where I met my current collaborators Franco Malerba, Luigi Orsenigo, and Giovanni Dosi), and at the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis in Vienna, Austria; was an adjunct professor in economics at New York University; accepted my first ‘tenure track’ Assistant Professorship position at the University of Denver in Colorado; took a year leave of absence to do a Marie Curie EC Post-Doctoral Fellowship at the London Business School near Regents Park in London, UK.

After returning to Denver, I accepted a position as Lecturer at the Open University (OU) in Milton Keynes, UK (2000) where 4 years later I became Professor in the Economics of Innovation; at the OU founded and directed the Innovation Knowledge and Development research centre (2004-2009) and was Economics Director of the ESRC Innogen centre co-hosted by the University of Edinburgh and the OU; was Visiting Professor at the Bocconi University in Milan, Italy (2006-2008); and directed the 3 year EC funded FINNOV project on Finance Innovation and Growth (2009-2012).

In 2011 I accepted to be the RM Phillips Professor in Science and Technology Policy in SPRU, University of Sussex near Brighton. A real honour to currently hold this post previously held by Chris Freeman, Keith Pavitt and Nick Von Tunzelmann. And somewhere between 2000-2005 I had 4 children (last two twins) who currently go to State schools in London and have in one way or another been influenced by many of the fantastic places above.

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