Industrial and technological policy: Contributions from evolutionary perspectives to policy design in developing countries
In the recent years a renewed consensus about the crucial role of industrial and technological policy to economic development has been growing. Despite of that, strong theoretical differences still persist concerning why and how the government must intervene in the economy. Neoclassical approach proposes that the intervention is only justified by the presence of market failures which leads to an underinvestment on R&D expenditures with respect to a Pareto efficiently level (Arrow and Debreu, 1954). Contrary to this view, a heterodox position integrated by several theoretical approaches can be identified. This group of heterodox authors does not constitute a cohesive and homogeneous corpus. In this paper three different approaches are differentiated. Firstly, we have identified a literature centred on population thinking models (Metcalfe 1994 and 2002, Dopfer, Foster and Potts, 2004, among others) that focus their analysis on the mechanism of variation, selection and retention in the competition process . From this perspective, policy design should be centred on: i) improving firms’ capabilities to increase the system variety which lead to renewing the process of market selection, and ii) enhancing the institutions that regulate the market-selection process. Secondly, we have identified a literature centred on the concept of national systems (Lundvall, 1992; Freeman, 1987; Nelson 1992 and Edquist, 1997), sectorial system (Malerba, 2002) and local system of innovation (Boschma and Martin, 2011; Antonelli, 2011). According to these authors, the elements that block the virtuous-functioning of the system and lead to a low innovative performance are targets for policy maker. Hence, industrial and technological policies should be focused on: i) enhancing agents’ capabilities and ii) improve their interactions. Thirdly, we have identified a literature integrated by contributions from evolutionary authors interested on the role of demand and cumulative causation process (Dosi, 2014; Saviotti y Pyka, 2002; Antonelli, 2011). This contributions are complemented and extended by others contributions that comes from neo-Structuralist and post-Keynesianism framework (Cimoli, Dosi, Stiglitz, 2009; Cimoli y Porcile, 2011, 2013) and authors inscribed in both theoretical traditions (Lee, 2013; Dosi, 2014). This evolutionary approach is focused on the divergence between economies and considers that gap’s reduction requires policies aimed at promote the generation of non-related variety with the production structure (Saviotti y Pika, 2002). In this context, the main objective of this paper is to discuss the prescriptions of industrial and technological policy that can be derived from this broad group of heterodox authors; and taking into account the specificities of developing countries stressed by Arocena and Sutz (2000, 2002 y 2003), Dutrenit, Rodriguez and Vera-Cruz (2006) and Cassiolato and Lastres (2009), among others. The combination of the three evolutionary streams is the path that industrial and technological policy should follow in developing economies and especially in Latin America. So, incorporating a concern for the divergence and the need for instruments that strengthen both the coevolution between related and unrelated variety and the dynamic of micro, meso and macro dimensions are keys. These instruments would be enhanced even more if population competition and innovation systems approaches are considered. This requires i ) to consider in which scheme of population competition the generation of variety emerge, ii) to develop firm´s capacities, and iii ) to design tools to improve the selection conditions These related and unrelated variety processes have a sectorial and regional general affiliation. Therefore, the contribution of the literature of local and sectorial innovation systems is important to understand existing blockades to generate positive feedbacks and increasing returns. Finally, the national innovation system approach can add elements of policy focused on both the necessary institutions for generating unrelated variety processes in the interactions between institutions and firms, and the need to identify the blockages that impede the process of building capacities.
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