The research projects combine research approaches from the economics, especially industrial economics, and social sciences. Innovation processes and their determinants are examined based on structuring theoretical approaches. Most of the research works are empirically oriented but also include the independent development of applied theoretical models.
One important characteristic of the projects is the use of sophisticated empirical methods to allow the optimal analysis of the used data. The works generally aim at identifying causal relationships, e.g., by applying instrumental variables, DID approaches or regression discontinuity methods. Furthermore, panel econometric methods are frequently used. Within the scope of the economics-oriented research at the Max Planck Institute for Innovation and Competition original data are often created, e.g., through interviews and surveys or by using big data approaches through selection of data from the internet (data mining) or other primary sources.
In order to use also experimental methods for the research projects the experimental laboratory econlab was set up in cooperation with the Max Planck Institute for Tax Law and Public Finance. Moreover, the department employs data scientists who drive the development and analysis of large data sets in the areas of patents, trademarks, company data, and information on court proceedings. Those resources are also open to external scientists.