Incentives, Institutions, and Investment in Private Agricultural Research in Asia

Incentives, Institutions, and Investment in Private Agricultural Research in Asia

Reviewed by Sidarth Singh
March 24, 2015

Dora Heng’s paper, “Incentives, Institutions, and Investment in Private Agricultural Research in Asia,” is a well-written work that carries significant implications for policymakers in Asia.  Gathering data from seven nations (Malaysia, Indonesia, the Phillipines, Sri Lanka, Laos, Papua New Guinea, and Vietnam), Heng’s study is the first of its kind that focuses on incentivized investment in research and development in the agricultural sector in Asia.  Utilizing quantitative and qualitative analysis, the paper offers a holistic consideration of several variables that may impact private sector investment in the developing nations.  The research presented explores the relationship between economic incentives, policies, and the governmental environment that may either compel or dissuade private investors to engage in R&D in Asia.  It includes a descriptive analysis of key developments supplemented by panel data.  Ultimately, Heng aims to test her hypothesis that “the expected market sizes for R&D outputs and the appropriability of returns from innovation from institutional can induce greater private expenditure in agriculture R&D.”


The population size is somewhat limited, however, at 47 data points taken from the time period 1995 to 2003. Regardless, Heng ultimately reaches several critical conclusions that can and will likely influence policymakers in the Asia-Pacific region in upcoming decades.  Perhaps the most important of these is her finding that the size of agriculture markets and government effectiveness collectively have a positive relationship with private investment in agricultural R&D. Intriguingly, her results on the relationship between investment and IPR strength is quite limited.  Heng suggests a number of possibilities for why this is in her article; however, I do find that the data is somewhat too limited to gauge the true nature of this result.  The research is otherwise sound and logical—easy to follow and presented in a way that should be easy and engaging to follow.  If you happen to be interested in this field, Heng’s paper will certainly leave room for many future considerations and substantively effect the way you perceive  the future of agricultural R&D.

See the full paper here!

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