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Uneven Paths of Development

Innovation and Learning in Asia and Africa Banji Oyelaran-Oyeyinka, Director, Monitoring and Research Division (MRD), UN-HABITAT, Kenya and Professorial Fellow, UNU-MERIT, Netherlands and Rajah Rasiah, Professor of Technology and Innovation Policy, Faculty of Economics and Administration, University of Malaya, Malaysia, Professorial Fellow, UNU-MERIT, Netherlands, Senior Research Associate, Sanjaya Lall Centre for Technology and Development, Oxford University, UK
This book focuses on what can be learned from the complex processes of industrial, technological and organizational change in the sectoral system of information hardware (IH). The IH innovation system is deliberately chosen to illustrate how sectors act as seeds of economic progress. Detailed firm-level studies were carried out in seven countries, three in Africa (Nigeria, Mauritius and South Africa) and four in Asia (China, Taiwan, Malaysia and Indonesia).
Extent: 256 pp
Hardback Price: $128.00 Web: $115.20
Publication Date: 2009
ISBN: 978 1 84720 906 1
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  • Development Studies
  • Development Economics
  • Development Studies
  • Economics and Finance
  • Development Economics
  • Economics of Innovation
  • Innovation and Technology
  • Economics of Innovation
This book focuses on what can be learned from the complex processes of industrial, technological and organizational change in the sectoral system of information hardware (IH). The IH innovation system is deliberately chosen to illustrate how sectors act as seeds of economic progress. Detailed firm-level studies were carried out in seven countries, three in Africa (Nigeria, Mauritius and South Africa) and four in Asia (China, Taiwan, Malaysia and Indonesia).

Bringing together two important areas of research (the scholarship on technology, innovation and learning, and the development literature) this book creates a useful and novel framework for understanding development, and draws very strong policy lessons for latecomer countries. It will be of great interest to graduate students working on evolutionary economics, science and technology policy studies, as well as policymakers and research institutes.
‘Why have East Asian countries grown so fast and the African countries so slowly for the last quarter century, even though many in the two groups at the beginning of the period had similar income levels? The authors provide an original, thoughtful and extremely insightful approach to this question by considering the experience of the two groups of countries in relation to the development of the information hardware industry. The results of this investigation are fascinating and thoroughly convincing. This volume makes a brilliant path breaking contribution to development economics and thoroughly deserves to be and will be widely read.’
– Ajit Singh, University of Cambridge and University of Birmingham Business School, UK

‘This book represents an important step forward towards understanding why some countries and regions are successful in catching-up with the rich part of the world while others tend to have great difficulties in doing so. It represents a very happy marriage between the literature on economic development and the literature on innovation and learning. At the end of the book a series of thoughtful recommendations for innovation policy are presented. This volume should be recommended to students and practitioners involved in understanding and promoting economic development.’
– Bengt-Åke Lundvall, Aalborg University, Denmark and Tsinghua University, Beijing, China

‘In recent years there has been a revolution in studies of economic development. The heart of successful development is seen as the growing mastery by firms of the technological, organizational, and managerial capabilities needed to be effective in a field of economic activity. In turn learning by firms is seen as strongly dependent upon the institutional structures that mold how they operate. And effective institutions are seen as often sectoral specific. The achievement of successful development thus requires that a nation put in place the appropriate institutions. This fine book is an important addition to this literature.’
– Richard R. Nelson, Columbia University, US

‘The authors demonstrate a good understanding of the theoretical scholarship which they have used competently in building up the intellectual foundations for analyzing the sources of uneven paths of development cross countries in Africa and Asia. Drawing on country data and experiences, the book offers evidence-based policy lessons relevant for learning to innovate and to catch-up in a complex process of industrial, technological and organizational changes at the firm- and sectoral-levels. This book deserves to be read by all those concerned with technology and development.’
– Kande Yumkella, UNIDO
Contents: Preface 1. Learning to Innovate: Information Hardware in Asia and Africa 2. The Rapid Rise of China 3. Low Value-Added Operations in Indonesia 4. Rapid Expansion with Slow Upgrading in Malaysia 5. Making a Difficult Transition in Mauritius 6. Weak Institutions Constrain Growth in Nigeria 7. Information Hardware at Incipient Phase in South Africa 8. Taiwan’s Move from Follower to Leader 9. Conclusions and Policy Implications References Index