Learning and Local Knowledge Institutions in African Industry
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
|Date of creation:||2004|
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