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Innovation in Low-Tech Firms and Industries

Innovation in Low-Tech Firms and Industries

Industrial Dynamics, Entrepreneurship and Innovation series

Edited by Hartmut Hirsch-Kreinsen and David Jacobson

It is a general understanding that the advanced economies are currently undergoing a fundamental transformation into knowledge-based societies. There is a firm belief that this is based on the development of high-tech industries. Correspondingly, in this scenario low-tech sectors appear to be less important. A critique of this widely held belief is the starting point of this book. It is often overlooked that many of the current innovation activities are linked to developments inside the realm of low-tech. Thus the general objective of the book is to contribute to a discussion concerning the relevance of low-tech industries for industrial innovativeness in the emerging knowledge economy.

Chapter 13: High-tech Innovations in Catching-up Countries: Conditions and Perspectives

Staffan Laestadius, Linda Gustavsson and Vicky Long

Subjects: economics and finance, economics of innovation, innovation and technology, economics of innovation


13. High-tech innovation in catchingup countries: conditions and perspectives Staffan Laestadius, Linda Gustavsson and Vicky Long INTRODUCTION In recent decades there has been an enormous increase in activities related to science and technology (S&T) and innovation outside OECD regions; in particular there is a dramatic expansion of S&T in Asian countries. China is probably the most well-known example of this process. After Japan, the first-tier ‘Asian Tigers’ (Korea, Taiwan and Singapore) are now followed by the second-tier ones (primarily China and India) – but these with significant home market potential and global-sized economies. Around the corner we can discern Asian countries like Vietnam – still poor but highly literate and dynamic, as well as Malaysia and Thailand which have been on the track for some years. Although this dynamic to a significant extent seems to be related to classical growth, it is obvious that it also contains non-incremental innovations as well as the creation of a variety of highly competitive capabilities. This chapter is about a high-tech profile in this dynamic which challenges our conventional wisdom on how the new industrializing countries should develop – and how ‘incumbent’ (since long developed) nations should act to stay competitive.1 The statistical picture of this new Asian dynamics is visible in many publications. International organizations like WBRD, IMF, UN, OECD and WTO nowadays publish analyses and statistical data which more or less all indicate the dramatic transformation taking place. Instead of presenting an enormous amount of data once again in...

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