Edited by Hartmut Hirsch-Kreinsen and David Jacobson
Chapter 12: Low-tech Industries between Traded and Untraded Interdependencies: A Dynamic Concept of Industrial Complementarities
Martin Heidenreich INTRODUCTION The current debate on low-tech innovation patterns develops from criticisms of ‘high-tech myopia,’ the idea that economic growth and employment is mostly the result of research-intensive industries (Hirsch-Kreinsen et al., 2005a; Von Tunzelmann and Acha, 2005). This kind of critique is particularly present in the discussion of public research and technology policies. Rightly, one is reminded of the importance of medium- and low-technology industries for growth, employment and innovations. It is emphasized that ‘Learning and innovation can take place without research and development (R&D), for example through acquisition of tacit and practical knowledge, and through formal and informal diﬀusion between ﬁrms’ (Jacobson and Heanue, 2005: 315). Technological upgrades, better designs or customerspeciﬁc applications or, on a more general level, learning-by-interacting and practical, experience-based, often implicit knowledge is considered to be an essential source of innovation especially for low- and medium-technology industries (LMT).1 LMT industries therefore are considered to be an integral part of advanced industrial regions (Robertson and Patel, 2007). Their speciﬁc innovative behaviour (focus on process innovation, design and marketing, weak internal R&D and engineering capabilities, external acquisition of knowledge; see Heidenreich, 2008) is complementary to other knowledgeintensive industries and services. These complementarities between companies with a diﬀerent technological basis are at the core of Pavitt’s taxonomy of diﬀerent patterns of technological change. LMT companies are analysed as supplier-dominated ﬁrms2 which rely on the capabilities of 221 222 Local versus global perspectives in innovation external technology suppliers...
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