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The role of technology standards in product innovation: Theory and evidence from UK manufacturing firms

Foucart, Renaud; Li, Qian Cher


Renaud Foucart

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Associate Professor in Industrial Economics


This paper studies the role of technology standards in firms' product innovation in terms of both incremental innovation (within a technology life cycle) and radical innovation (beyond the present technology cycle). We first develop a theoretical model which predicts that technology standards can be used by firms as an "insurance" hedging against the risky process of developing new products. This insurance mechanism fosters incremental innovation and product growth especially for those further away from the technological frontier. Using data from a weighted panel of UK manufacturing firms over seven years, we find that the use of technology standards over past years significantly enables a firm's incremental innovation while also reducing its incentive to deliver radical innovation. Additionally, we show that this relationship is contingent on a firm's R&D intensity in line with predictions of our theoretical model.


Foucart, R., & Li, Q. C. (2021). The role of technology standards in product innovation: Theory and evidence from UK manufacturing firms. Research Policy, 50(2),

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Oct 26, 2020
Online Publication Date Nov 19, 2020
Publication Date 2021-03
Deposit Date Oct 28, 2020
Publicly Available Date May 20, 2022
Journal Research Policy
Print ISSN 0048-7333
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 50
Issue 2
Article Number 104157
Keywords technology standards; incremental innovation; radical innovation; R&D intensity Forthcoming in Research Policy * rfoucart@lancasteracuk; Lancaster University Management School † Corresponding author: CherLi@nottinghamacuk; Nottingham University Business S
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