Economic Development as a Learning Process

Economic Development as a Learning Process

Variation Across Sectoral Systems

Edited by Franco Malerba and Richard R. Nelson

Until recently, economists studying economic development have tended to consider it a universal process, or focussed their attention on common aspects. This book originates from the growing recognition of significant sectoral differences in economic development and examines the catching-up process in five different economic sectors: pharmaceuticals, telecommunications equipment, semiconductors, software, and agro-food industries. Each of these sector studies explore the learning and catch-up processes in various developing countries, in order to identify both the common features, and those which differ significantly across sectors and nations. The authors pay particular attention to China, India, Brazil, Korea and Taiwan.

Chapter 6: The Agro-food Sector in Catching-up Countries: A Comparative Study of Four Cases

Shulin Gu, John O. Adeoti, Ana Célia Castro, Jeffrey Orozco and Rafael Díaz

Subjects: development studies, development economics, economics and finance, development economics, economics of innovation, evolutionary economics, innovation and technology, economics of innovation


Shulin Gu, John O. Adeoti, Ana Célia Castro, Jeffrey Orozco and Rafael Díaz 6.1 INTRODUCTION 6.1.1 The Importance of Agriculture and Research Objective This study looks into the development of the agro-food sector from a sectoral innovation systems perspective, focusing on dynamics and mechanisms that brought about changes to the sector in the circumstances of technological progress and globalization. Human beings have been engaging in agriculture for thousands of years. This sector uses land to produce foodstuffs and the output is used as raw materials in an increasingly wide range of manufacturing. The agro-food sector makes up a crucial part of developing economies. It is the  basis securing the food supply for the increasingly huge population in the developing world. In total 3 billion, half of the 5.5 billion people of the developing world, live in rural areas (The World Bank, 2008, p. 3) and most of them are involved in agriculture for their living. What is happening to the sector in catching-up countries? What about the prosperity of the vast pool of the agricultural population in the developing world? What lessons can be drawn from their experiences in order to improve policy-making for the development of the sector? Mainstream development thinking, from Lewis (e.g. Lewis, 1954) to Prebisch (1959), put modern sectors at the centre of catch-up in developing or ‘backward’ countries, with agriculture being assigned a passive role. These lines of thought have been influential up to the present time. Important progress has been achieved in...

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