The extra gear of business model 4.0 for exporting and the backstage role of Public institutions, University and Business schools. Empirical insights from Italy
Marco Pini, Marco Gentile, Damiano Angotzi
The objective of the paper is to test whether and to what extent digitalization affects the likelihood of exporting by distinguishing 4.0 technology adoption from 4.0 business model innovation (i.e., the combination of 4.0 technology adoption and associated business model innovation). Using a unique micro-level database of almost 3,000 Italian manufacturing firms, our econometric analyses show that business model 4.0 innovation accelerates the propensity to export more than the adoption of 4.0 technologies alone (i.e., without the subsequent business model change), and to a greater extent for micro-small firms, mature firms, and firms located in less developed regions (Southern Italy). Testing the endogeneity of business model innovation, we find that the firm’s relationship with Public institutions and the university under the Triple Helix model, as well as training through vocational and business schools, increases the likelihood of business model innovation after the adoption of Industry 4.0 technologies. Overall, our paper is one of the first empirical analyses of the relationship between digitalization and internationalization that involves business model innovation and that goes beyond the adoption of 4.0 technology. The results offer important policy implications with respect to the goals defined in Italy’s National Resilience and Recovery Plan.