Most studies analysing the relationship between R&D and firm growth focus on total R&D investment. This paper aims to analyse separately each component of R&D investment (basic research, applied research and technological development) and evaluate how these types of R&D investment are related to firm growth. Using a sample of 3972 Spanish manufacturing firms during 2004–2015, our empirical results are the following. First, firms have heterogeneous R&D strategies. The common wisdom that young firms invest in basic research, while old firms invest in applied research, is not supported in our data. Second, we investigate the characteristics and dynamics of firms with different R&D strategies. We observe complementarities between applied research and technological development due to their positive associations with firm growth. Finally, our results show that there is a tendency for firms to transition from basic research to applied research.
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