Technology foresight and industrial strategy in developing countries

Carlo Pietrobelli & Fernanda Puppato

#2015-016

When Technology Foresight (TF) began to be adopted in industrial countries, it tended to be still somewhat a marginal activity in developing countries. It was then believed that TF and its prediction of the future was a matter that only highly industrialised countries could endeavour to achieve, being more engaged and interested in frontier and "new to the world" innovation.

Today globalisation, increased complexity, competition and fast technical change, have radically transformed the range of economic activities that developing countries can perform. Production is internationally fragmented and organised along global value chains. Dense flows of knowledge and technology are available, but need to be fully exploited and employed within coherent industrial strategies. A specialisation by technology and learning has become the dominant paradigm and developing countries must detect opportunities for future technological and productive specialisation in order to catch up and forge ahead. Yet, often TF exercises do not go hand in hand with the design of a concrete policy strategy to promote emerging countries' productive development and catching up.

This paper analyses how and to what extent TF programmes are needed in developing countries given the new prevailing global context. It argues that the link between TF and broader industrial development strategy needs to be taken seriously in light of its role to shape technological change and economic growth, and that TF and industrial development strategy need to be coherently designed and implemented. We provide preliminary support to this argument by discussing the theoretical foundations of TF and industrial strategy and their justification, and then reviewing some relevant examples from Brazil, Chile and South Korea.

JEL Classification: O380, O250

Key words: Technological Change, Science Technology and Innovation Policy, Industrial Policy, Technology Foresight, Catch-up, Global Value Chains, Innovation Councils, Brazil, Chile, South Korea.

  


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