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Learning and Local Knowledge Institutions in African Industry

  • Oyelaran-Oyeyinka, Banji

    ()

    (United Nations University, Institute for New Technologies)

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    Drawing insights from firm-level survey, this paper addresses three broad issues relating to the role of learning and knowledge in African industry. First, we examined modes of learning proxied by training in small and medium firms. We found that elementary learning mechanisms such as apprenticeship, resulting in the creation of tacit knowledge, are the dominant forms of learning. While knowledge externalities tend to benefit larger firms, small enterprises with little absorptive capacity are locked into repetitive routines of learning-by-doing and disconnected from both local and global knowledge pools. Second, we looked at the types and nature of the mix of formal knowledge and human skills possessed by firms and how these impact on the learning process. Management and technical training are mostly conducted in-house and are correlated with firm output and export performance. The level of resources devoted to training also correlates with performance. Thirdly, we examine the effect of interaction of local knowledge institutions and small and medium producers to generate autonomous technical dynamism. While small firms collaborate with suppliers and industrial associations, interaction with 'knowledge creators' such as universities is insignificant. We suggest that economic policy has a role to play in stimulating dynamic learning in firms

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    File URL: http://www.intech.unu.edu/publications/discussion-papers/2004-2.pdf
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    Paper provided by United Nations University - INTECH in its series UNU-INTECH Discussion Paper Series with number 02.

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    Date of creation: 2004
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    Handle: RePEc:unm:unuint:200402
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    1. Henny Romijn, 2001. "Technology Support for Small-scale Industry in Developing Countries: A Review of Concepts and Project Practices," Oxford Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 29(1), pages 57-76.
    2. Robin Cowan & Paul A. David & Dominique Foray, 1999. "The Explicit Economics of Knowledge Codification and Tacitness," Working Papers 99027, Stanford University, Department of Economics.
    3. Salter, Ammon J. & Martin, Ben R., 2001. "The economic benefits of publicly funded basic research: a critical review," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 30(3), pages 509-532, March.
    4. Bengt-ake Lundvall & Bjorn Johnson, 1994. "The Learning Economy," Industry and Innovation, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 1(2), pages 23-42.
    5. Hicks, Diana & Breitzman, Tony & Olivastro, Dominic & Hamilton, Kimberly, 2001. "The changing composition of innovative activity in the US -- a portrait based on patent analysis," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 30(4), pages 681-703, April.
    6. Frazer, Garth, 2006. "Learning the master's trade: Apprenticeship and human capital in Ghana," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 81(2), pages 259-298, December.
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