Innovation, Economic Development and Policy
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Innovation, Economic Development and Policy

Selected Essays

Jan Fagerberg

This authoritative and enlightening book focuses on fundamental questions such as what is innovation, who is it relevant for, what are the effects, and what is the role of (innovation) policy in supporting innovation-diffusion? The first two sections present a comprehensive overview of our current knowledge on the phenomenon and analyse how this knowledge (and the scholarly community underpinning it) has evolved towards its present state. The third part explores the role of innovation for growth and development, while section four is concerned with the national innovation system and the role of (innovation) policy in influencing its dynamics and responding to the important challenges facing contemporary societies.
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Chapter 9: INNOVATION AND CATCHING-UP

Jan Fagerberg and Manuel M. Godinho

Abstract

The history of capitalism from the Industrial Revolution onwards is one of increasing differences in productivity and living conditions across different parts of the globe. According to one source, 250 years ago the difference in income or productivity per head betwen the richest and poorest country in the world was approximately 5:1, while today this difference has increased to 400:1 (Landes 1998). However in spite of this long-run trend towards divergence in productivity and income, there are many examples of (initially) backward countries that–at different times–have manged to narrow the gap in productivity and income between themselves and the frontier countries, in other words, to "catch up". How did they do it? What was the role of innovation and diffusion in the process? These are among the questions we are going to discuss in this chapter.

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