Competitiveness, Technology and Skills

Competitiveness, Technology and Skills

Sanjaya Lall

This book draws together recent contributions by Sanjaya Lall – a leading authority on international investment, technology and industrial policy – on competitiveness and its major determinants. It draws upon his wide experience of competitiveness analysis in Asian and African countries and his recent work on technology and skills. It contains his most important published material as well as previously unpublished articles, and will be of interest to students, researchers and policy analysts interested in industrial development, technology and human resources.

Chapter 4: The Technological Structure and Performance of Developing Country Manufactured Exports, 1985–98

Sanjaya Lall

Subjects: development studies, development economics, economics and finance, development economics, industrial economics, innovation and technology, technology and ict


* 4.1 INTRODUCTION Export performance by developing countries is highly diverse. Its patterns differ significantly by country and region; over time, moreover, they are changing at different rates and in different directions. A few countries are ‘succeeding’: they are rapidly expanding export earnings and raising their ‘quality’ (shifting export structures from low-technology, low-skill, and largely labour-intensive products to high-technology and high-skill products). By contrast, many countries are stagnating in terms of both export earnings and quality. In the middle are countries with reasonable rates of quantity growth but relatively weak improvements in quality. The process of globalization is reducing rather than raising the ability of developing countries to integrate successfully with the world economy. While such divergences in export performance are well recognized, its dimensions and forms are perhaps less well known. The importance of understanding the nature, implications and determinants of developing world export patterns cannot be over-stressed. In a liberalizing world, export success is more important than ever to economic performance. It remains directly relevant, as the main means of earning foreign exchange (except for the few countries that have large international service sectors), reaping economies of scale and specialization and accessing new technology. It is also of great indirect significance. It is an indicator of the efficiency of the industrial sector, facing more direct (because of liberalization) and intense (because of falling transport costs and the new ‘rules of the game’) competition than before. Insofar as industrialization remains an engine of development, structural change and...

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