Science, technology and innovation policy

Project on measuring design and its role in innovation


This project has reviewed how the current measurement frameworks capture the broad range of innovation activities in firms, and in particular how design activities are reflected. It highlights which concepts, definitions and measurement approaches can be used to produce policy-relevant indicators on the role of design in innovation. It also demonstrates how survey data can be used to study the relationship between design use, innovation and economic performance, with a quantitative analysis of the results of a set of experimental design-related questions introduced by Statistics Denmark in its 2010 innovation survey. 

The project was carried out under the auspices of the OECD Working Party of National Experts on Science and Technology Indicators (NESTI) as part of its review of the measurement framework for R&D and innovation.


Project outcomes


Selected highlights

Evidence from new experimental questions in the Danish innovation survey 


The charts below present some results on the new experimental questions on design introduced by Statistics Denmark in their 2010 Community Innovation Survey. The questions correspond to a practical implementation of a “ladder-type” model of design which describes levels of sophistication and integration of the design function within the firm.


Impact of levels of design use on the probability of introducing an innovation, 2010

Chart n1 of the web-page on design and its impact on innovation

Source: OECD and Statistics Denmark, based on CIS2010 results for Denmark.
Note: Marginal effects obtained from probit model estimations, controlling for size and sector. Baseline=”don’t know/not relevant”. All coefficients are significant at 5% level.

How to read this chart: The figures correspond to the marginal effect of design use as an integrated element on the probability of introducing different types of innovation, taking the firms answering ”don’t know/not relevant” as the baseline. Firms answering that design is a central and determining element in the foundation of the firm are found to be 24% more likely to introduce product innovation than firms answering “don’t know/not relevant”.


Differences in measures of economic performance according to design use, R&D use and innovation, 2008-10

Chart 2 in the web-page Design and its impact on innovation                              

Source: OECD and Statistics Denmark, based on CIS2010 micro-data for Denmark.

Note: OLS estimates, controlling for size and sector. “Innovator” refers to firms with product, process, organisational or marketing innovation. Sample size varies across the various performance variables considered.

How to read this chart: The figures correspond to OLS estimates of the effects of innovating, using design as an integrated element, and conducting R&D on the different economic performance measures, controlling for size and sector. Firms using design as an integrated element (resp. firms conducting R&D) are found to have on average a 15% (resp. 10%) higher productivity growth rate than similar-sized firms within their own sectors. White bars correspond to coefficients not significant at 10% level. 


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This project has benefited from a grant funding support from the European Commission, as part of a collaborative partnership agreement between the OECD and DG Enterprise and Industry, the EC-OECD Partnership on Innovation.

Ray Lambert, Ruth Flood and Dannielle Campbell from Madano Consultants, contributed to this work with an analysis of design concepts for measurement, implementing an online-based consultation and analysing the results. Helle Månsson and Jens Brodersen from Statistics Denmark also provided an essential contribution, by implementing the OECD analysis of innovation and custom design micro-data for Denmark and assuring the non-confidentiality of the OECD results. 

The work has also benefited from a wide range of contributions from colleagues and experts. 

Co-funded by:

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