International Journal of Technological Learning, Innovation and Development (7 papers in press)
Standards, Regulation and Sustainable Development in a Global Value Chain Driven World
by Raphael Kaplinsky, Mike Morris
Abstract: Regulations and standards have become an increasingly important factor affecting the capacity of producers to participate in global markets. Directly and indirectly, they not only determine the terms of market-entry but also affect the extent to which different producers are able to position themselves in global value chains in a manner which provides for socially and environmentally sustainable income growth. Standards compliance can enhance producer capabilities and assist in meeting many of the SDG objectives. But it may also involve trade-offs between different SDG goals. Standards compliance is simultaneously inclusive (facilitating the participation of low and middle income countries producers in global production and spreading incomes more widely globally) and exclusive (barring small producers from market access and displacing unskilled labour from supply chains). What policy measures will best lead to the most positive outcomes as standards diffuse through global value chains?
Keywords: Global Value Chains; Regulations; tandards; SDGs; Upgrading.
Are African micro and small enterprises misunderstood? Unpacking the relationship between work organisation, capability development and innovation
by Erika Kraemer-Mbula, Edward Lorenz, Lotta Takala-Greenish, Oluseye Jegede, Tukur Garba, Musambya Mutambala, Timothy Esemu
Abstract: Mainstream studies on innovation consider innovation processes as necessarily driven by expenditures on formal R&D and the input of engineers and scientists with third-level degrees. This bias in the literature has led to the view that micro- and small enterprises (MSEs), which constitute the majority of Africas enterprise base, are non-innovative. Building on an existing critique largely emerging from developing countries, this study provides evidence that, despite their lack of formal R&D expenditures, MSEs in Nigeria, South Africa, Tanzania and Uganda are in fact active innovators. The paper argues that the mainstream literature fails to capture important dynamics and practices that are central to innovation in MSEs. Arguing that the way work activity is organised is closely linked to learning, capability development and, ultimately, innovation, the paper unpacks the relationships between these three processes with evidence from MSEs in the four African countries. The empirical findings demonstrate that an important basis for the innovativeness of African MSEs is the adaptability of employees and their ability to learn on the job, and to make use of their own ideas in solving the problems they face in work.
Keywords: innovation; micro and small enterprises; Africa; interactive learning; organisational learning; skills development; work organisation; competence building.
Special Issue on: Technological Upgrading and Innovation in Emerging Economies
Towards an agenda for measuring innovation in emerging African economies: what can we learn from the case of South Africa?
by Glenda Kruss
Abstract: SScholars have warned of the risks for designing relevant and effective policy instruments in emerging economies, based on indicators that do not measure the full complexity of innovation and technological upgrading in heterogenous contexts. There is growing consensus around the need to better align what is measured, with what should be measured. The paper reflects conceptually, using the case of South Africa, a middle-income country to propose a high-level framework, as a contribution to inform the adaptation of existing, and the creation of new complementary measures in low- and middle-income African contexts. Such a measurement approach should be based on broader models of innovation that emphasise the systemic and dynamic nature of innovation; that are oriented not only to firms and the formal sector, but also to other economic and social actors in informal settings; that encompass multiple dimensions of technology upgrading; and that focus on technological capability building, particularly at the local level.
Keywords: Innovation measurement; Africa; emerging economies; technological capabilities; STI Strategy for Africa; South Africa.
Accumulating technological capabilities through R&D projects: Studies on the Brazilian defence industry
by Stefan Bernat, Solmaz Karabag
Abstract: Emerging-economy firms (EEFs) have striven to accumulate technological capabilities and promote indigenous innovation for technology upgrading and catch-up. By assuming that R&D projects affect firm capabilities, this study investigated how EEFs can accumulate technological capabilities through R&D activities. A technological-capability framework was proposed with the dimensions of organisational structure, innovation processes, practice, resources and entrepreneurial leadership. The framework guided an exploratory case study of three R&D projects in the Brazilian defence industry: the thrust vector control (TVC), software-defined radio (SDR) and radar projects. The TVC project utilised existing firm capabilities, whereas the SDR and radar projects needed to develop their capabilities from scratch. Different paths were adopted to accumulate technological capabilities and deliver the projects outcomes. It was found that a balance between the dimensions may positively impact the rate at which technology capabilities are accumulated. Theoretical contributions and practical implications for EEFs are also discussed.
Keywords: emerging-economy firms; Brazilian defence industry; catching-up; organisational capability; technological capability; capability accumulation; capability dimensions; indigenous innovation; R&D projects; thrust vector control; software-defined radio; radar.
Innovation Capability, Network Embeddedness and Economic Performance: Profiling Solar Power Innovators in China
by Mahmood Shubbak
Abstract: This paper discusses the technological upgrading of China in photovoltaics technology. It explores the patterns of innovation and network-embeddedness and their impact on economic performance at the firm level. Identifying the main innovators over 1995-2014 with patent and market-share indicators, the landscape of their activities is inspected through two hierarchical cluster analyses in parallel: First, against the quantity, quality and diversity of patents, and second, against global-integration, component-size and position in technological knowledge networks. The resulting clusters are cross-related to understand their interrelations with age, size, turnover and productivity of actors. The multivariate analysis of variance shows a significant relationship between innovation-network concurrency and the age, turnover and productivity. Global-integration in small-world networks is significantly related with economic performance. Quality of innovation shows higher importance than quantity and diversity. While specialization in high-tech fields has positive impact on turnover, production-oriented firms with low-tech focus have higher productivity.
Keywords: innovation system; solar photovoltaics; China; patent profiles; network embeddedness patterns; cluster analysis; MANOVA; concurrency matrix; economic performance; productivity; technological upgrading; emerging economy.
MNC Technological Upgrading in Emerging Regional Areas: a Case Study on Automotive Subsidiaries in MERCOSUR
by Martín Obaya, Paul Kalfadellis, Natalie J. Doyle
Abstract: Technological upgrading dynamics in subsidiaries operating in emerging regions remains as an under researched topic. This study aims to examine the role of headquarters and subsidiaries in the upgrading process of subsidiaries in regional agreements among emerging countries. It also examines how the the multi-level normative frame regulating such agreements affect the accumulation of technological capabilities. A single case study has been designed to examine the process of upgrading of automotive subsidiaries operating in MERCOSUR, covering the period 1991 and 2012. Among the main findings, the study concludes that the decision to promote technological upgrading in subsidiaries in emerging regions remains at the level of headquarters during the early stages of the learning process. Only when subsidiaries go beyond a capability threshold they are able to gain autonomy to make autonomous learning initiatives. Furthermore, it was found that the functionally-integrated network organised by the headquarters within the MERCOSUR region adopted a highly hierarchical structure lead by the Brazilian unit, which truncated the learning process of the Argentinian subsidiary. The intra-firm hierarchies was accentuated by the characteristics of the MERCOSUR normative framework, that did not included provisions to counterbalance growing asymmetries within the region.
Keywords: MULTINATIONAL COMPANIES; SUBSIDIARIES; TECNOLOGICAL CAPABILITIES; MERCOSUR; INNOVATION; TECHNOLOGICAL LEARNING; SUBSIDIARY DEVELOPMENT.
Frugal innovation approaches to sustainable domestic energy: Two cases of solar water heating from Brazil
by Hans-Christian Busch, Tobias Dauth, Luise Fischer, Marcelo Souza
Abstract: This paper aims to shed light on sustainability oriented frugal innovation. We explore how frugal approaches to innovation can be used as affordable and environmentally sustainable alternatives to established water heater systems. Using a descriptive case study approach, two examples of frugal innovators in Brazil are being depicted.
We develop a better understanding how frugal approaches to solving similar environmental problems vary between different organisational forms. Moreover, we investigate in which situations a frugal approach to sustainable innovation appears to be suitable.
Our findings indicate that distinct approaches to frugal innovation can be pursued developing environmentally sustainable and affordable technology. Comparing a grassroots non-profit organisation to a for-profit corporation, we identify different degrees of relational importance of frugality in environmental sustainability.
We show that frugal approaches represent viable alternatives in achieving circular products and that these approaches can contribute to a socially inclusive form of environmentally friendly domestic energy use.
Keywords: frugal innovation; sustainable water heating; grassroots innovation; circular economy; bricolage; emerging economies; Brazil.