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Innovation Surveys

Innovation Surveys in the United States and the Georgia Manufacturing Survey

Innovation surveys seek to track developments in innovation capabilities and performance including the development and application of new product, process, organizational, and marketing innovations at the enterprise level. Innovation surveys have attracted much interest in the United States. More than 50 countries have undertaken innovation surveys, including numerous European countries through the Community Innovation Survey (CIS). The CIS has a two-fold purpose: (1) to monitor the level of innovation within private sector firms and (2) to provide a statistical basis for innovation policy. The first CIS was conducted in Europe in the 1992-93 timeframe.

A related area of research is through surveys of manufacturers. These kinds of surveys are not new to the United States, but most of them at the state level are focused on business or economic development concerns (e.g. whether asking manufacturers whether they plan to expand, or what they consider to be major business constraints). Only a few state level efforts have focused on technological and innovation capabilities of firms. The Business R&D and Innovation Survey (BRDIS), conducted by the US Census Bureau and the National Science Foundation, incorporate elements related to innovation (such as R&D expenditures) and basic CIS survey questions about new or significant improved products and processes, but they do not as yet seek to measure the full range of innovation-related activities, which is important since it has been found that innovation often has much to do with non-R&D “soft” practices.

To the best of our knowledge, the only general business and innovation survey focused on manufacturing and that has been conducted with consistency over several decades in the United States is the Georgia Manufacturing Survey. The aim of the Georgia Manufacturing Survey has been to understand business and technological conditions of the state’s manufacturing base. The survey goes to all identifiable manufacturers in Georgia with 10 or more employees. Respondents receive a customized benchmark report that compares their answers to those of the top manufacturers in their industry and size classification on selected metrics (they also receive a summary of the survey results). The Georgia Manufacturing Survey is conducted as a partnership between the Georgia Tech Enterprise Innovation Institute and the Georgia Tech School of Public Policy. At various points, sponsorship has been provided by the Georgia Manufacturing Extension Partnership, the U.S. Economic Development Administration, the Center for Paper Business and Industry Studies, the Georgia Department of Technical and Adult Education, and Habif, Arogeti, and Wynne, LLP. The directors of the survey are Dr. Jan Youtie and Professor Philip Shapira. The survey Web site is GMS-EI2.org.

Many of the questions in the Georgia Manufacturing Survey are designed and worded to enable benchmarking of results with the CIS. In some cases, special collaborations were developed to enable direct comparisons with survey results. For example, a benchmarking effort conducted with an innovation survey administered in Germany in 1999 found that Georgia firms in capital goods industries held an early lead over German firms concerning the adoption of teamwork in production, but by the end of the 1990s, German firms had completely closed the gap. (Youtie, Shapira, and Oh, 2001) A further benchmarking effort is planned for the Autumn of 2006 with an innovation survey in the UK.

Several insights about innovation have emerged from the Georgia Manufacturing Survey. For example, only 8 percent of Georgia manufacturers compete primarily through innovation, compared to 20 percent that compete through offering low prices. However, profit rates (which declined between 2002 and 2005) dropped much more sharply for manufacturers that prioritized low price strategies compared to those that compete primarily through innovation. Moreover, manufacturers that competed primarily through innovation were much less apt to be impacted by outsourcing than are those competing primarily through low price. Innovation strategies were also found to be associated with the introduction of new-to-the-market products, significant organizational changes, widespread use of technologies in the workforce, and highly skilled and educated employees.

These results have been used as a basis for program improvements within the Georgia Manufacturing Extension Partnership (GaMEP). Additional resources have been reallocated to creating a market and product development skill base. Efforts are being explored to link lean manufacturing to the firm’s innovation capability. And the program is developing training offerings in innovation.

We have published several conceptual and empirical papers drawing on the results of our innovation research. These include:

Shapira P. 2006. Innovation and Small and Midsize Enterprises: Innovation Dynamics and Policy Strategies. Prepared for presentation at the Second Workshop on the Co-Evolution of Innovation Policy, Fraunhofer ISI, Karlsruhe, Germany, June 22-23, 2006. Draft chapter for the book: The Co-Evolution of Innovation Policy – Innovation Policy Dynamics, Systems, and Governance.

Shapira P. Youtie J. Lamos, E. Bhaskarabhatla, A., Mohapatra S., Cheney D. 2006, June. Product and Service Innovation. Gaithersburg, MD: National Institute of Standards and Technology.

Youtie, J. and Shapira, P. 2007, “Innovation Strategies and Manufacturing Practices: Insights from the 2005 Georgia Manufacturing Survey” in Small and Medium-sized Enterprises and the Global Economy. G. Susman, ed. North Hampton, MA: Edward Elgar Publishing, Inc.

Youtie, J, Shapira P, Slanina, J., Lamos, E. 2006 (revised). Innovation in the Pulp and Paper Industry. Paper prepared for the Sloan Industry Studies Annual Meeting. Cambridge, MA.

Roper, S., Youtie, J., Shapira, P., & Fernández-Ribas, A. (2010). Knowledge, capabilities and manufacturing innovation: a USA–Europe comparison.Regional Studies, 44(3), 253-279.

Other publications based on the survey can be found under each survey year, on the survey web site. All survey questionnaires and survey reports are also available on the site – see GMS-EI2.org