Centre for Transformative Innovation

Economics of innovation

Why do some firms choose not to innovate and what are the main obstacles? How risky is innovation and what role do environmental factors play? Why are some firms consistently below the technological frontier? Should governments intervene in the innovation system?

Orthodox economic theory often treats innovation or technical progress as manna from heaven. The dominant theory of the firm focuses on pricing behaviour and does not seek to explain the behaviour of companies and the process they undertake to create new technology, new processes or new products.

These conventional theories assume that firms are always on, or are close to, the technological frontier and that knowledge, once created, disperses quickly throughout the economy. Although this abstraction of how innovation occurs may be reasonable in some branches of economics, it is unhelpful for studies of productivity growth.

In our research, we avoid notions of instant competitive equilibrium and hyper-rationality and investigate how firms actually behave.

Our areas of research include:

  • Intellectual property
    Applied economic and legal analysis of the patent, trademark, designs and plant variety rights systems around the world.

  • Productivity and firm performance
    An analysis of the relationship between innovation and firm performance using large panel business databases.

  • Public innovation policy
    Economic analyses of optimal policy settings in the area of government support for business; the research sector and collaboration between sectors.

  • Translation of science
    An analysis of factors driving or inhibiting the use and dissemination of science into industry and the community.

  • Energy economics
    Applied economic analysis of the energy market.

  • Asian engagement
    Analysis of Australia-Asian engagement and the development of Asian economies.

Research team

Name

Role

Areas of research

Beth Webster

Director, Centre for Transformative Innovation

Intellectual property, productivity and firm performance, public innovation policy and translation of science

Christine Greenhalgh

Professor of Applied Economics, University of Oxford

Intellectual property and asian engagement

Alfons Palangkaraya

Associate Professor, Economics

Intellectual property, productivity and firm performance, public innovation policy, translation of science and asian engagement

Russell Thomson

Associate Professor, Economics

Intellectual property, productivity and firm performance, public innovation policy, translation of science and asian engagement

Amanda Scardamaglia

Department Chair, Swinburne School of Law

Intellectual property and public innovation policy

Paul Jensen

Professorial Fellow, Swinburne Adjunct, University of Melbourne

Intellectual property, public innovation policy and translation of science

T'Mir Julius

Data Scientist

Intellectual property, and productivity and firm performance

Stephen Petrie

Data Scientist

Intellectual property, and productivity and firm performance

Tom Spurling

Professor, Innovation Studies

Productivity and firm performance, public innovation policy, translation of science

Mitchell Adams

Research Associate

Intellectual property

Patric Doran

Research Fellow

Productivity and firm performance, public innovation policy, translation of science

Abbas Valadkhani

Research Fellow

Energy economics

Amir Moradi Motlagh

Research Fellow

Energy economics

Terry Healy

Adjunct Professor

Intellectual property

Elisabeth Mueller

Adjunct Professor

Intellectual property, productivity and firm performance, public innovation policy and translation of science

John Webb

Professorial Fellow

Asian engagement