Innovation in Low-Tech Firms and Industries
Show Less

Innovation in Low-Tech Firms and Industries

Edited by Hartmut Hirsch-Kreinsen and David Jacobson

It is a general understanding that the advanced economies are currently undergoing a fundamental transformation into knowledge-based societies. There is a firm belief that this is based on the development of high-tech industries. Correspondingly, in this scenario low-tech sectors appear to be less important. A critique of this widely held belief is the starting point of this book. It is often overlooked that many of the current innovation activities are linked to developments inside the realm of low-tech. Thus the general objective of the book is to contribute to a discussion concerning the relevance of low-tech industries for industrial innovativeness in the emerging knowledge economy.
Buy Book in Print
Show Summary Details
You do not have access to this content

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...

You are not authenticated to view the full text of this chapter or article.

Elgaronline requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books or journals. Please login through your library system or with your personal username and password on the homepage.

Non-subscribers can freely search the site, view abstracts/ extracts and download selected front matter and introductory chapters for personal use.

Your library may not have purchased all subject areas. If you are authenticated and think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.

Further information

or login to access all content.