The international diffusion of biotechnology: the arrival of developing countries
According to conventional economic theory, countries tend to converge in economic and technological terms towards the leader. More recently, empirical approaches by economic historians (Abramovitz, Landes, Madison, Reinert) have found that while some countries are catching up, others are falling increasingly behind. Several theories compete to explain the precise mechanisms that explain how technological diffusion takes place. The paper reviews them and draws testable hypotheses for the study of international biotechnology diffusion. Biotechnologies are one of the leading sets of technologies developed in the late 20th century. They encompass applications in agriculture, chemicals, environment and pharmaceuticals. The United States has led the way in both scientific and industrial development of biotechnologies and these have quickly spread to Canada, Japan and Western Europe. Are the main developing countries adopting biotechnology? A study of the adoption of human health biotechnology in eight developing countries in Asia (China, India, Korea, and Singapore) and Latin America (Argentina, Brazil, Chile and Mexico) was conducted, based on the analysis of in situ interviews, patents and scientific publication. The study shows a marked process of adoption and learning in science: each of the above-mentioned developing countries is increasing its share of world publication between 1996 and 2008. However, their share of biotechnology patents for the same period has barely increased. There are also regional differences in terms of sectoral concentration; Latin America, Argentina and Brazil are eager adopters of agricultural biotechnology and are moving up in the pharmaceutical records. Several Argentinean, Chinese, Indian, and South Korean pharmaceutical companies have been particularly active in the development of biogenerics. Copyright Springer-Verlag 2012
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Volume (Year): 22 (2012)
Issue (Month): 4 (September)
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