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Innovation and Small Enterprises in the Third World

Innovation and Small Enterprises in the Third World

New Horizons in the Economics of Innovation series

Edited by Meine Pieter van Dijk and Henry Sandee

Innovation is crucial for small enterprises to become and remain competitive in the global economy. In this book, the authors have combined theoretical insights with comprehensive case studies on innovation among small-scale enterprises in developing countries, paying particular attention to technological change in clusters of small firms.

Chapter 4: Trying to Innovate Far From International Frontiers: Case Study from the Small-scale Briquetting Industry in India

Joy Clancy

Subjects: development studies, development economics, economics and finance, development economics


Chapter 4 15/3/02 9:00 am Page 3 4. Trying to innovate far from international frontiers: case study from the small-scale briquetting industry in India Joy Clancy Briquetting is the compression of loose organic waste materials, such as sawdust or rice husk, to a more compact form (briquette) that makes the waste into a marketable product as a substitute for fuelwood or coal. The technology for briquetting is not complex in the sense that it does not use microelectronics for its operation nor does it demand highly sophisticated operating conditions or techniques, such as a clean room or genetic engineering. It uses local materials as part of the process inputs. The equipment can be made in standard engineering workshops. Briquetting therefore can be considered as a particularly appropriate technology for indigenous production and use in rural areas of a developing country such as India. It is appropriate in the sense that mastery of the technology requires the type of skills that would be expected in a country with an existing metal working and mechanical engineering industry. The briquettes are only intended for the internal (domestic) market. Industries which serve the indigenous market fall outside the mainstream of the literature on innovation which emphasizes that the competition arising from international trade is one of the most important stimulants to innovation (Lall, 1992). The focus has been on the science-based sectors such as electronic capital goods and biotechnology, and innovation has been considered only to take place at international frontiers. Cooper (1991)...

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