Catching Up or Breaking Out? Capability Development Strategy of Latecomer Firms and Nations

Prof. Wong Poh Kam, National University of Singapore

Amidst growing concerns with the so-called "Middle Income Traps", there has been renewed interest in the question of how latecomer firms in developing nations can catch up with more advanced firms in developed economies. In this talk, I will provide a brief review of the technological catch-up literature, and suggest that the "catching-up" metaphor has inherent limitations on the way we conceptualize a latecomer's capability development strategy. I will argue instead for a broader strategic framework that includes both "path-following" and "path-breaking" modes of learning, and that incorporates both "market-fit" and "technology performance" dimensions of innovation. Applying the framework and using several examples, I will seek to show that there are multiple capability development pathways for latecomer firms from developing economies to achieve competitiveness in the global economy. The talk will end with a discussion of how state policies and entrepreneurial behavior may influence the selection of capability development pathways by latecomer firms.

About the speaker
WONG Poh Kam is Professor at the National University of Singapore (NUS) Business School where he teaches entrepreneurship and innovation strategy with a special focus on Asia. He is also Professor (by courtesy) at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy and the Faculty of Engineering at NUS. He obtained two BSc.’s, an MSc. and a Ph.D. from MIT. He has published extensively in leading international refereed journals on entrepreneurship and innovation.

Venue: 4th Floor Grote Gracth Building

Date: 17 June 2014

Time: 15:30 - 16:30