Asia's 'Upgrading Through Innovation' Strategies and Global Innovation Networks: An Extension of Sanjaya Lall's Research Agenda
in Transnational Corporations, Vol.17,No.3: P.31-57, December, special issue Essays in Honor of Sanjaya Lall
27 Pages Posted: 27 Apr 2016
Date Written: July 25, 2008
This essay is a very personal homage to Lall’s work on technological change and industrialization, in particular his pioneering study on technological capabilities, prepared for the OECD Development Centre (Lall, 1990). I will not seek to add yet another review of Lall’s work. Instead, I will sketch a roadmap for extending Lall’s research agenda to explore the challenges that result from global transformations (i.e. global innovation networks) for Asian attempts to upgrade its industries through innovation. I will demonstrate that Lall’s framework remains valid, once globalization extends beyond markets for goods and finance into markets for technology and knowledge workers. As a result, Asia’s integration into global production networks is now complemented by its integration into global innovation networks, which adds a new dimension to Lall’s research agenda. If not mentioned otherwise, the evidence used to support my arguments draws on unique data base of global innovation networks for a sample of now almost 150 companies in the information and communications technology industry (Ernst, 2008b) .
Section one of the essay introduces what I consider to be the essence of Lall’s work, summarized in five propositions. In the rest of the paper, I will use these propositions to study the link between ‘upgrading-through-innovation’ strategies and global innovation networks. In section two, I introduce a conceptual framework to examine how specialization, learning and innovation enhance the potential for industrial upgrading. Section three addresses the international dimension of industrial upgrading – I discuss characteristics and drivers of global innovation networks and explore implications for learning and knowledge diffusion. Section four presents generic policy suggestions.
Keywords: Sanjaya Lall,industrial upgrading, innovation, global innovation networks, transnational corporations, Asia
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