Chapter 11: Technological Learning and Capability Building in LMT Industries in Newly Industrializing Countries: Selected Examples from Taiwan
Liang-Chih Chen 1. INTRODUCTION Viotti (2002: 653) has defined technological learning as, ‘the process of technical change achieved by the absorption of already existing techniques, i.e., of innovations engendered elsewhere, and the generation of improvements in the vicinity of the acquired innovations’. This is often cited as the dynamic engine of late industrialization (Amsden, 1989; Hobday, 1995; Kim, 1997), but while there seems to be a consensus that technological capability in late industrializing countries generally begins with and depends heavily upon the international diffusion of technology from advanced industrial countries, there is considerable scope for variation in the gains that firms can derive from adopting and using foreign technology. Literature on the industrial development of developing countries has already suggested that the learning of imported knowledge by latecomers is not a straightforward and simple process (Fransman and King, 1984; Dahlman et al., 1987; Lall, 1992; Bell and Pavitt, 1993). It entails the building of technological capabilities, a mixture of information, skills, interactions and routines that latecomer firms need in order to handle the tacit elements of technology (Lall and Urata, 2003). These authors also emphasize that to gain a better understanding of the technological change of late industrializing countries, we have to go beyond the static concerns addressed in earlier studies and theories, in which technology was regarded as a precise, well-defined body of knowledge, something that could be instantly mastered by accessing the right technology sitting on a shelf, and which focused on how successful late industrialization could occur...
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