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Innovation and Economic Development

  • Jan Fagerberg

    (Centre for Technology, Innovation and Culture, University of Oslo)

  • Martin Srholec

    (Centre for Technology, Innovation and Culture, University of Oslo)

  • Bart Verspagen

    (Centre for Technology, Innovation and Culture, University of Oslo)

Innovation is often seen as carried out by highly educated labour in R&D intensive companies with strong ties to leading centers of excellence in the scientific world. Seen from this angle innovation is a typical “first world” activity. There is, however, another way to look at innovation that goes significantly beyond this high-tech picture. In this, broader, perspective, innovation – the attempt to try out new or improved products, processes or ways to do things – is an aspect of most if not all economic activities. In this sense, it is argued (section one), innovation may be as relevant in the developing part of the world as elsewhere. Section two discusses the existing theoretical and empirical literature on the subject. An important conclusion is that to be able to exploit technology to their own advantage, developing countries need to develop the necessary capabilities for doing so. But what are these capabilities and how can they be measured? The third section of the paper surveys attempts to identify and measure capabilities as the national level. However, the development of such capabilities, it is shown, depends in important ways on what firms do. Section four, therefore, focuses on recent attempt to survey innovation activity in firms in developing countries and what can be learnt from that. Section five discusses the role of domestic versus foreign sources in fostering innovation in the developing part of the world. The final section summarizes the main lessons.

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Paper provided by Centre for Technology, Innovation and Culture, University of Oslo in its series Working Papers on Innovation Studies with number 20090723.

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Length: 62 pages
Date of creation: Jul 2009
Date of revision: Oct 2009
Handle: RePEc:tik:inowpp:20090723
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