Uneven Paths of Development
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Uneven Paths of Development

Innovation and Learning in Asia and Africa

Banji Oyelaren-Oyeyinka and Rajah Rasiah

This book focuses on what can be learned from the complex processes of industrial, technological and organizational change in the sectoral system of information hardware (IH). The IH innovation system is deliberately chosen to illustrate how sectors act as seeds of economic progress. Detailed firm-level studies were carried out in seven countries, three in Africa (Nigeria, Mauritius and South Africa) and four in Asia (China, Taiwan, Malaysia and Indonesia).
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Chapter 1: Learning to Innovate: Information Hardware in Asia and Africa

Banji Oyelaren-Oyeyinka and Rajah Rasiah


1. 1.1 Learning to innovate: information hardware sector in Asia and Africa INTRODUCTION This book explores two broad themes and advances one proposition. At a general level, we seek to understand the factors that explain the wide differences in economic growth through divergent paths of development between East Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. The aim is to contribute to the debate on the underlying factors of historical catch-up, an idea that has a long tradition of scholarship (Hamilton, 1791; List, 1885; Gerschenkron, 1962; Amsden, 1989; Amsden and Chu, 2003; Schumpeter, 1934, 1942; Reinert, 2007). The second theme in this book looks at the process of technological capability accumulation through learning that is now widely accepted as underpinning historical economic catch-up (Nelson and Winter, 1982; Rosenberg, 1976, 1982; Freeman, 1987, 1989; Amsden, 1989; Lundvall, 1988). In taking a comparative historical economic perspective, we are not unmindful of the deep-rooted differences in the history and cultures of the regions and countries as well as the political constituencies and policies that shape the paths of development (see Nelson and Winter, 1982; North, 1990). We feel that these differences may in fact help to shed light on our analyses. We therefore assume that the ‘development trajectory of countries is not only non-unique but also malleable’.1 This informs the title of this book: the paths of development of nations are uneven in the sense that countries chart unequal trajectories depending on where they come from, the processes they adopt (path-dependence), the natural endowment...

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