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Localised Low-tech Learning in the Furniture Industry

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  • Peter Maskell

Abstract

It is by now an established fact, that the so-called high technology industries have experienced growth rates way above average through most years. High technology industries share of the world manufacturers export has risen from 12 per cent in 1970 to 25 per cent in 1995. More than one-third of Japan's manufacturing export and more than 40 per cent of America's manufacturing export are products from high technology industries, and this development has increasingly led to an international obsession with high technology industries. In a number of countries R&D indicators have by now become the object of intense discussions. Great efforts are devoted to improve a bad relative standing. The aim of this paper is to questioned whether a national specialisation towards high technology industries is the only way by which the mature, developed countries can hope to sustain and augment their economic position. I claim that in contrast to much of the assumptions in contemporary politics and in the majority of the contemporary academic literature on the subject the countries without a specialisation in high technology industries are not left in the backwaters of economic development. Quite the contrary seems to be the case as many advanced, high-cost countries experience an above average economic performance even when specialising in the bottom end of the low-tech industries. The argument is illustrated with empirical material from the wooden furniture industry in general - and the rather successful Danish wooden furniture industry in particular. The possible reasons behind this apparent paradox are discussed.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by DRUID, Copenhagen Business School, Department of Industrial Economics and Strategy/Aalborg University, Department of Business Studies in its series DRUID Working Papers with number 96-11.

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Date of creation: 1996
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Handle: RePEc:aal:abbswp:96-11

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Web page: http://www.druid.dk/

Related research

Keywords: International competitiveness; industrial clusters; wooden furniture industry; level of technology;

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References

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  1. Grossman, G.M. & Helpman, E., 1994. "Technology and Trade," Papers 175, Princeton, Woodrow Wilson School - Public and International Affairs.
  2. Levy, David, 1984. "Testing Stigler's Interpretation of "The Division of Labor Is Limited by the Extent of the Market."," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 32(3), pages 377-89, March.
  3. Paul Krugman, 1990. "Increasing Returns and Economic Geography," NBER Working Papers 3275, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. George J. Stigler, 1951. "The Division of Labor is Limited by the Extent of the Market," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 59, pages 185.
  5. Dosi, Giovanni, 1990. "Finance, innovation and industrial change," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 13(3), pages 299-319, June.
  6. S.A. Lippman & R.P. Rumelt, 1982. "Uncertain Imitability: An Analysis of Interfirm Differences in Efficiency under Competition," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 13(2), pages 418-438, Autumn.
  7. Guerrieri, Paolo, 1991. "Technology and International Trade Performance in the Most Advanced Countries," UCAIS Berkeley Roundtable on the International Economy, Working Paper Series qt1f1116fd, UCAIS Berkeley Roundtable on the International Economy, UC Berkeley.
  8. Richardson, G B, 1972. "The Organisation of Industry," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 82(327), pages 883-96, September.
  9. Jan Fagerberg, 1996. "Competitiveness, Scale and R&D," Working Papers Archives 1996545, Centre for Technology, Innovation and Culture, University of Oslo.
  10. Ingemar Dierickx & Karel Cool, 1989. "Asset Stock Accumulation and Sustainability of Competitive Advantage," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 35(12), pages 1504-1511, December.
  11. Eccles, Robert G., 1981. "The quasifirm in the construction industry," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 2(4), pages 335-357, December.
  12. Soete, Luc, 1987. "The impact of technological innovation on international trade patterns: The evidence reconsidered," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 16(2-4), pages 101-130, August.
  13. Paul Romer, 1989. "Endogenous Technological Change," NBER Working Papers 3210, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. Peter Maskell, 1996. "Learning in the Village Economy of Denmark. The role of Institutions and Policy in Sustaining Competitiveness," DRUID Working Papers 96-6, DRUID, Copenhagen Business School, Department of Industrial Economics and Strategy/Aalborg University, Department of Business Studies.
  15. Elhanan Helpman & David T. Coe, 1993. "International RandD Spillovers," IMF Working Papers 93/84, International Monetary Fund.
  16. Balassa, Bela, 1969. "Industrial Development in an Open Economy: The Case of Norway," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 21(3), pages 344-59, November.
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