Carl Benedikt Frey, Giorgio Presidente, 06 May 2022

Face-to-face interactions are critical for the cross-fertilisation of ideas. Yet, the share of geographically distributed teams in scientific research has steadily risen since the 1960s and accelerated with the ICT revolution of the 1990s. This column explores how the rise of remote collaboration has shaped disruptive discoveries in science between 1961 and 2020. Remote collaboration negatively impacted breakthrough discoveries, but the effect reversed after 2010, likely due to improvements in technologies that support effective remote collaboration at distance. 

Lutz Bellmann, Pauline Bourgeon, Christina Gathmann, Patrick Gleiser, Christian Kagerl, Eva Kleifgen, Corinna König, Ute Leber, David Marguerit, Ludivine Martin, Laura Pohlan, Duncan Roth, Malte Schierholz, Jens Stegmaier, Armin Aminian, 05 August 2021

The Covid-19 pandemic has forced firms to adapt their work processes to the infectious dynamic and the public health measures to contain it. Using survey data of almost 2,000 establishments in Germany, this column shows that the pandemic has accelerated the diffusion of digital technologies, especially in combination with working from home. Investments are particularly prominent in large establishments, while small and medium-sized establishments are less likely to invest in digital technologies and more likely to face financial or logistic barriers to investment. Investments vary a lot across sectors, but are less influenced by the current economic condition of the establishment.

Debora Revoltella, Désirée Rückert, Christoph Weiss, 18 March 2020

European firms lag behind the US in R&D investment and the adoption of digital technologies. Using firm-level data from 2019, this column finds that larger firms have higher rates of digital adoption than do their smaller peers, and that digital firms have better management practices and show more dynamism. European policymakers looking to close the innovation gap should address structural barriers to investment in digitalisation, remove disincentives to grow, and reduce market fragmentation, particularly in the service sector.

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