The Impact of Information and Communication Technologies in Latin America
Edited by Mario Cimoli, André A. Hofman and Nanno Mulder
Chapter 2: Technical Change and Economic Growth: Some Lessons from Secular Patterns and Some Conjectures on the Current Impact of ICT
* Carolina Castaldi and Giovanni Dosi INTRODUCTION 1 This chapter evaluates the effects of the current ‘revolution’ in information and communication technologies (ICT) upon economic growth and development from an evolutionary perspective. Before addressing this issue, we first discuss the distinctive ‘evolutionary’ interpretation of the processes of innovation and technological diffusion in relation to economic growth, and look at the historical patterns of technological change and their apparent relations with economic growth. 2 OPENING UP THE ‘BLACK BOX’ OF TECHNOLOGICAL ACTIVITIES Recently the evolutionary inspired literature on the economics of innovation and technical change has advanced our understanding of what is inside the ‘black box of technology’.1 2.1 The Properties of Technological Learning Several authors have found well-structured bodies of knowledge, referred to elsewhere by one of us as technological paradigms (Dosi, 1982, 1988; Dosi et al., 2005). Each paradigm involves knowledge bases grounded in selected physical/chemical principles and entails specific solutions to selected techno-economic problems and rules aimed at the refinement and accumulation of new knowledge. Examples of technological paradigms include the internal combustion engine, oil-based synthetic chemistry 43 M2392 - CIMOLI PRINT.indd 43 22/9/10 13:06:29 44 Innovation and economic development and semiconductor-based micro-electronics. In fact, a closer look at the patterns of technical change suggests the existence of ‘paradigms’ with different levels of generality in most industrial activities. Product and process innovations associated with each paradigm tend to proceed along relatively ordered technological trajectories. Such trajectories have several properties. First, each paradigm shapes the rate and direction...