Persistence and learning effects in design innovation: evidence from panel data

Carlo Corradini, Beatrice D'Ippolito

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This paper explores persistence and learning effects in the aesthetic and symbolic dimensions of design innovation. By combining insights from innovation economics and design studies, we discuss design innovation as the result of firm-specific cumulative learning. We then conceptualise design and product innovation as complementary processes whose interplay may lead to learning effects across different dimensions of knowledge creation. We provide quantitative evidence for these insights applying dynamic probit and bivariate probit models to a longitudinal dataset of manufacturing firms based in Spain for the period 2007–2016. Our findings confirm the presence of persistence effects in design innovation, offering novel evidence in support of the view whereby design is an iterative process shaped by the knowledge generated through firms’ previous engagement with design. In addition, the results contribute to our understanding of the role of design beyond its functional dimension, pointing to mutually reinforcing effects between aesthetic and symbolic design and product innovation.
Original languageEnglish
Article number104452
JournalResearch Policy
Issue number2
Early online date8 Dec 2021
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2022


  • cumulative learning
  • design
  • innovation
  • persistence
  • product innovation
  • symbolic knowledge


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