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Innovation in Low-Tech Firms and Industries

Edited by Hartmut Hirsch-Kreinsen, Professor of Economic and Industrial Sociology, TU Dortmund University, Germany and David Jacobson, Emeritus Professor of Economics, Dublin City University Business School, Ireland
It is a general understanding that the advanced economies are currently undergoing a fundamental transformation into knowledge-based societies. There is a firm belief that this is based on the development of high-tech industries. Correspondingly, in this scenario low-tech sectors appear to be less important. A critique of this widely held belief is the starting point of this book. It is often overlooked that many of the current innovation activities are linked to developments inside the realm of low-tech. Thus the general objective of the book is to contribute to a discussion concerning the relevance of low-tech industries for industrial innovativeness in the emerging knowledge economy.
Extent: 320 pp
Hardback Price: £97.00 Web: £87.30
Publication Date: 2008
ISBN: 978 1 84720 823 1
Availability: In Stock
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  • Economics and Finance
  • Economics of Innovation
  • Innovation and Technology
  • Economics of Innovation
It is a general understanding that the advanced economies are currently undergoing a fundamental transformation into knowledge-based societies. There is a firm belief that this is based on the development of high-tech industries. Correspondingly, in this scenario low-tech sectors appear to be less important. A critique of this widely held belief is the starting point of this book. It is often overlooked that many of the current innovation activities are linked to developments inside the realm of low-tech. Thus the general objective of the book is to contribute to a discussion concerning the relevance of low-tech industries for industrial innovativeness in the emerging knowledge economy.

Providing examples of both theoretical and empirical research in this area, Innovation in Low-tech Firms and Industries will be of great interest to postgraduate students and academic researchers in innovation studies. It will also appeal to policy makers in the field of innovation policy as well as industrial economists and sociologists interested in traditional industries in advanced economies.
‘This very valuable book collects together excellent empirical essays on what amounts to a silent majority in advanced industrial societies: low and medium tech manufacturing industries. Such industries employ more people and make a larger contribution to aggregate value creation than their more lauded high-tech counterparts – and moreover, they constitute extremely important customer industries for such higher tech producers. They may be neglected, but they are not going away – indeed, this volume shows that they are growing and adapting to the new competitive challenges of globalization. Attending to the dynamics of innovation and change in this large sector is crucial for understanding processes of social and economic restructuring in Europe today. The essays in this volume are the first place to look for insight into this extremely important area of political economic life in Europe.’
– Gary Herrigel, University of Chicago, US

‘Innovation in Low-Tech Firms and Industries challenges the currently fashionable notion that the advent of a “knowledge-based economy” demands that all social resources should be diverted to “high-technology” industries. Hirsch-Kreinsen and Jacobson point out these constitute a small part of even the most advanced economies. Attention has been diverted from the important innovation processes which occur in low and medium technology (LMT) sectors. This volume calls on us to achieve a much better – and wiser – balance in our industrial policy.’
– Terrence McDonough, National University of Ireland, Galway

‘The authors of this book make an urgently needed provocative point: ordinary engineering and technology (“low-tech”) continue to be of greater importance, in our “knowledge society”, than high-tech activities, and they may be similarly demanding by the competence they require and produce. This counteracts the exaggerated hype about high-tech firms or activities. The high-tech classification itself is highly arbitrary and often superficial. The authors show in what way “low-tech” activities and firms are important, and how they can be cultivated to buttress the economic strength of industrial and post-industrial nations. Researchers and policymakers, please take note!’
– Arndt Sorge, Wissenschaftszentrum Berlin, Germany and University of Groningen, The Netherlands
Contributors: G. Bender, D. Freddi, A. Gerybadze, B. Godin, H. Grupp, L. Gustavsson, K. Hahn, M. Heidenreich, H. Hirsch-Kreinsen, D. Jacobson, S. Kinkel, E. Kirner, S. Laestadius, G. Lay, V. Long, B. Musyck, P.L. Robertson, A. Slowak, K. Smith, M. Toivonen, J. Wickham, A. Wziatek-Kubiak
Contents:

INTRODUCTION

1. The Low-Tech Issue
Hartmut Hirsch-Kreinsen, Katrin Hahn and David Jacobson

PART I: INNOVATION IN LMT: CONDITIONS AND REQUIREMENTS
2. How to Grasp Innovativeness of Organizations: Outline of a Conceptual Tool
Gerd Bender

3. Standard-setting Competition and Open Innovation in Non-HT Industries: Mechanical Engineering and Machinery
Alexander Gerybadze and André Slowak

4. The Moral Economy of Technology Indicators
Benoît Godin

5. Critical Comments on the ‘Moral Economy of Technology Indicators’
Hariolf Grupp

PART II: TECHNOLOGICAL DIFFUSION AND INTERRELATIONSHIPS BETWEEN SECTORS
6. Distributed Knowledge Bases in Low- and Medium-Technology Industries
Paul L. Robertson and Keith Smith

7. LMT Innovations in a High-tech Environment: Human-factor ‘Tools’ for the Airline Industry
David Jacobson and Bernard Musyck

8. Technology Fusion and Organizational Structures in Low- and Medium-tech Companies
Daniela Freddi

9. Industrial Innovations in Relation to Service Sectors
Marja Toivonen

10. The Relevance of Services for High-, Medium- and Low-tech Firms – An Empirical Analysis in German Industry
Eva Kirner, Gunter Lay and Steffen Kinkel

PART III: LOCAL VERSUS GLOBAL PERSPECTIVES IN INNOVATION
11. Innovation Activities versus Competitiveness in Low- and Medium-Technology-based Economies: The Case of Poland
Anna Wziatek-Kubiak

12. Low-tech Industries between Traded and Untraded Interdependencies: A Dynamic Concept of Industrial Complementarities
Martin Heidenreich

13. High-tech Innovations in Catching-up Countries: Conditions and Perspectives
Staffan Laestadius, Linda Gustavsson and Vicky Long

14. Worshipping at the Shrine of the Knowledge-based Society?
James Wickham

Index