Pressemitteilung/Press Release

Press Release of 9 June 2016

Foreign-owned companies in Germany are investing less in R&D

Gernot Krautberger (Copyright)  Spritze DNA Deoxyribonucleic
Copyright: Gernot Krautberger

DIW Berlin study reveals decline in foreign-owned companies’ R&D spending, but increase in overall R&D expenditure due to domestic companies’ considerable investment – foreign-owned companies are investing more strongly in leading-edge  technologies, and midsize foreign-owned companies recently raised their R&D expenditure

Private companies’ overall R&D investment continued to grow between 2011 and 2013. At the same time, companies that are predominantly foreign-owned invested less in R&D than they did in previous years; in contrast, domestic companies spent more on R&D and bulked up their R&D personnel accordingly. These are the results of a new study conducted by the German Institute for Economic Research (DIW Berlin).

For their analysis, experts Heike Belitz and Alexander Eickelpasch of DIW Berlin’s Department of Firms and Markets evaluated data (Wissenschaftsstatistik) from the Stifterverband für die Deutsche Wissenschaft (“Wissenschaftsstatistik”) as well as cost structure surveys from the Federal Statistical Office.

Companies that conduct R&D are more productive

In 2013, foreign companies’ spending on R&D in Germany amounted to nearly 12 billion euros, which is over one billion euros less than in 2011. As well, the number of R&D employees at these companies dropped from 90,900 to 80,800.

“All the same, foreign companies are investing 37 percent—a relatively large proportion—of their R&D expenditure in high-tech industries like pharmaceuticals and aerospace equipment. This figure is significantly lower among German companies: only 21 percent,” says Belitz.

As expected, research-based companies are significantly more efficient than are non-research-based companies. Moreover, the study reveals that foreign-owned research-based companies have 13-percent higher labor productivity than do domestically owned companies. Eickelpasch explains the difference: “Foreign-controlled companies are often part of multinational corporations, which means they benefit from having an international presence—however, this is not necessarily the case for all domestic companies.”

Germany still an attractive research location

In Germany, foreign-controlled companies have a smaller share in private R&D spending in Germany than they do in France or the UK. Yet the R&D intensity among all German-based companies—measured as R&D expenditure relative to the GDP—is significantly higher. On its own, foreign-owned companies’ lack of R&D spending does not indicate whether a research location is attractive. Belitz and Eickelpasch do not see the recent decline in foreign companies’ R&D activities as a sign of Germany’s decreasing attractiveness as a research location, especially since the decline is more due to the decisions of individual larger companies than it is to a general trend: in fact, R&D expenditure among midsize foreign-controlled businesses in Germany actually increased between 2011 and 2013.


DIW Economic Bulletin 23/2016 | PDF, 301.22 KB

Interview: "Germany Remains an Important Research Location for Foreign Companies": Five Questions to Alexander Eickelpasch | PDF, 101.29 KB

Follow DIW Berlin on Twitter

German Institute for Economic Research

Founded in 1925, DIW Berlin (the German Institute for Economic Research) is one of the leading economic research institutes in Germany. The Institute analyzes the economic and social aspects of topical issues, formulating and disseminating policy advice based on its research findings. DIW Berlin is part of both the national and international scientific communities, provides research infrastructure to academics all over the world, and promotes the next generation of scientists. A member of the Leibniz Association, DIW Berlin is independent and primarily publicly funded.

You can find more press releases here.

Press Office DIW Berlin

Renate Bogdanovic+49-30-897 89-249+49-174-319-3131
Claudia Cohnen-Beck+49-30-897 89-252+49-174-314-9583
Sebastian Kollmann+49-30-897 89-250+49-162-105-2159
Mathilde Richter+49-30-897 89-152+49-172-154-0646

Communications Management German Socio-Economic Panel Study (SOEP)

Monika Wimmer+49-30-897 89-251

Further use of the above image is not allowed. Figures and tables displayed are approved for publication. If you require raw data, please contact DIW Berlin's press office.