Innovation and Economic Development

Innovation and Economic Development

The Impact of Information and Communication Technologies in Latin America

Edited by Mario Cimoli, André A. Hofman and Nanno Mulder

Information and communication technologies (ICT) are spreading fast across Latin America and the Caribbean. This trend has brought about important economic and social changes, which have largely gone unmeasured until recently. Here, analysts from the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean along with other distinguished scholars in the field of ICT, growth and productivity provide theoretical and empirical insights to the debate on the role of ICT in economic development.

Chapter 7: ICT, Learning and Growth: An Evolutionary Perspective

Mario Cimoli and Nelson Correa

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


Mario Cimoli and Nelson Correa INTRODUCTION 1 The recent changes in international – political and economic – relations and the ongoing ‘ICT revolution’ are reshaping the opportunities and constraints facing policy-making and institutional engineering, although they have by no means decreased their importance. On the technological side, for example, the characteristics of today’s productive knowledge have changed relative to, say, the electromechanical paradigms within which countries like Germany and the United States caught up with and overtook the UK nearly a century ago. They might also be partly different from the type of knowledge – largely centred on first-generation information and communication technologies (ICT) – through which, more recently, Korea and Taiwan approached the technological frontier. In turn, changes in the type of knowledge that countries need to accumulate and improve upon are often accompanied by changes in the production system and in the most appropriate policy packages concerning innovation, for example, the support to the national incumbent, the type of education offered and the role of public training and research centres. A paradigm-based theory of production and innovation seems to be highly consistent with the evidence on the patterned and cumulative nature of technical change, as well as with the evidence on microeconomic heterogeneity and technological gaps. Even if micro-paradigms present considerable invariance across countries, the ways various paradigms are combined in broader technological systems and, more so, in national production and innovation systems highlight a considerable variety, shaped by country-specific institutions, policies and social factors. The hypothesis here is that evolutionary micro-foundations...

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