Industrial policy for technological infrastructure development: Intermediate institutions, collective productivity and inter-sectoral learning

Antonio Andreoni, Centre for Science, Technology and Innovation, University of Cambridge

The industrial policy debate is taking a pragmatic turn. Beyond ideological controversies, economists and policy leaders have been increasingly rethinking the role of the government in the transformation of countries’ economic structures. Not only have new policy rationales been put forward; additionally, specific measures, tools and institutions have been deployed and adapted, based on comparative analysis of other countries’ successes and failures. This pragmatic turn is partially driven by the structural transformations of the global manufacturing landscape over the last two decades and the emergence of a sort of ‘jealousy of manufacturing’. Within the ‘new political economy of industrial policy’, focused on the variety of countries’ industrial policy experiences, a major emphasis has been assigned to learning and production knowledge. The development of manufacturing production competences and capabilities requires continuous transformations and upgrading of a country’s technological infrastructure along its structural change trajectory. Building on a number of detailed institutional cases, this paper investigates the role of intermediate institutions within the broader countries’ public-private technological infrastructure. These institutions play a fundamental bridging function between research, product systems and technologies development, finally playing a crucial role in their manufacturing. By operating at the interface of different (but closely complementary) sectoral domains, intermediate institutions boost processes of ‘collective productivity’ increase and ‘inter-sectoral learning’ dynamics. The case study analysis highlights different institutional forms, functions and functioning as well as unpacking the micro-technological factors responsible for such processes and dynamics. The possibility of triggering such mechanisms through selective policy interventions will be then discussed. The paper concludes by taking stock of a number of lessons this analysis generates for the industrial policy debate.

About the speaker
Antonio is a Research Associate at the Cambridge University Engineering Department, Institute for Manufacturing and Principal Investigator of the research strand on Techno-Manufacturing Systems, Industrial Dynamics and Policy at the Centre for Science, Technology and Innovation Policy (CSTI). Antonio’s current research aims to bridge and cross-fertilise economics and engineering in order to advance the understanding of complex structures, competences and interdependencies within modern technological, manufacturing and industrial systems. Particular emphasis is given to the implications for industrial policy design, monitoring and evaluation and to the political economy of manufacturing development. His research has appeared in journals such as the Cambridge Journal of Economics, Oxford Review of Economic Policy and Structural Change and Economic Dynamics. Antonio also contributed to expert groups such as the Columbia University IPD-JICA Task Force and the OECD Industrial Policy Evaluation Group; also, consulted international organisations such as UNIDO, ILO, GIZ and the UK Government Office of Science (BIS). Antonio is Adjunct Lecturer in Economic Development and International Cooperation at the School of Economics, Management and Statistics at the University of Bologna. He is Co-founder and Coordinator of the Babbage Industrial Policy Network, Cambridge; Elected Member of the Global Young Academy; finally, Life Member of Clare Hall, Cambridge. Antonio took a M.Sc. in Economics (Bologna) and a M.Phil. and Ph.D. in Development Economics (Cambridge) under the supervision of Ha-Joon Chang and was awarded the XIX Fausto Vicarelli National Award by the Italian Economic Society.

Venue: A0.24 (TS53)

Date: 30 April 2014

Time: 12:00 - 13:30