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2007 OECD Economic Surveys: Austria 2007

image of OECD Economic Surveys: Austria 2007

This 2007 edition of OECD's periodic survey of Austria reviews recent developments in its economy and examines current challenges including Austria's deepening economic integration with Central and Eastern Europe, overcoming labour market segmentation, improving innovation, and rationalising fiscal policy and strengthening public expenditure management.

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Improving innovation

Enhancing growth through more innovation has become a priority for Austrian policy makers in line with European policies as laid down in the Lisbon Agenda. The chapter discusses Austria’s innovation performance, its innovation policies, and general framework conditions for innovation and growth. Austria has increased its R&D spending as a share of GDP over the last ten years, largely reflecting more business R&D, and aims at increasing it further to 3% of GDP by 2010. Innovation activity as measured by output indicators has also improved in various fields, including the number of innovating SMEs. Furthermore, policy instruments and institutions have been improved and a culture of policy evaluation is developing. However, the chapter identifies some weaknesses, particularly in general economic framework conditions, which may limit the creation and diffusion of innovation and productivity growth. It suggests focusing more on these framework conditions, notably by strengthening competition in non-manufacturing product markets, such as retail and professional services, reducing the cost of firm creation and improving human capital. It also argues that focusing on a numerical target for R&D spending as an end in itself is very unlikely to be cost effective. With its university reform in 2002, Austria has made a major step in improving the efficiency of tertiary education but more needs to be done.

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