Scandinavian Working Papers in Economics

Working Paper Series in Economics and Institutions of Innovation,
Royal Institute of Technology, CESIS - Centre of Excellence for Science and Innovation Studies

No 85: Persistence of profits and the systematic search for knowledge - R&D links to firm above-norm profits

Johan Eklund () and Daniel Wiberg ()
Additional contact information
Johan Eklund: Jönköping International Business School (JIBS) and CESIS
Daniel Wiberg: Jönköping International Business School (JIBS) and CESIS

Abstract: Economic theory tells us that abnormal firm and industry profits will not persist for any significant length of time. Any firm or industry making profits in excess of the normal rate of return will attract entrants and this competitive process will erode profits. However, a substantial amount of research has found evidence of persistent profits above the norm. Barriers to entry and exit, is an often put forward explanation to this anomaly. In the absence of, or with low barriers to entry and exit, this reasoning provides little help in explaining why these above-norm profits arise and persist. In this paper we explore the links between the systematic search for knowledge and the persistence of profits. By investing in research and development firms may succeed in creating products or services that are preferred by the market and/or find a more cost efficient method of production. Corporations that systematically invest in research and development may, by doing this, offset the erosion of profits and thereby have persistently high profits which diverge from the competitive return.We argue that even in the absence of significant barriers to entry and exit profits may persist. This can be accredited to a systematic search for knowledge through research and development.

Keywords: Persistence of Profits; Profit Dynamics; R&D; Innovation Activity; Knowledge

JEL-codes: C10; C32; O10; O32

17 pages, March 13, 2007

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