The middle-technology trap: The case of the automotive industry in Turkey

Semih Akçomak & Serkan Bürken

#2019-006

This paper argues that Turkey has fallen into a middle-technology trap on the borders of a weak innovation system (IS) and strong global value chains (GVCs). Detailed information from a primary R&D and innovation funding agency is used to show that the technological characteristics of the funded automotive R&D and innovation projects remained reasonably stable between 1995 and 2011. This result is cross-validated with two qualitative designs on beneficiary firms and automotive industry experts. The qualitative designs aided in identifying three mechanisms that explain how the Turkish automotive industry has fallen into a middle-technology trap. Analysis at the project, firm, and expert levels indicate that despite extensive upgrading and learning in manufacturing, the automotive industry has failed to build innovation capabilities. Turkey's delegated role in the automotive GVC, the joint venture (JV) structure and the lack of complementarities collectively work in creating a trap that impedes further technological development.

Keywords: Middle-technology trap, automotive industry, technology, innovation, Turkey

JEL Classification: O12, O25, O33, L62

  


UNU-MERIT