Alumni profile

Anant Kamath

Thesis: Information Sharing through Informal Interaction in Low-tech Clusters, 2013

Promotor(s): Robin Cowan

Anant Kamath joined UNU-MERIT in the PhD programme on the Economics and Policy Studies of Technical Change in September 2007. Prior to this, he was with the Centre for Development Studies (Trivandrum, India) for his MPhil, and with the Madras School of Economics for his MSc. After four years with UNU-MERIT, he served as Visiting Researcher at the Department of Sociology of the University of Georgia in the United States from September 2011 to May 2012. Anant's PhD research is on exchanges of knowledge through informal interaction using social networks. This analysis is situated in low-tech clusters in Kerala state in India. It comprises of two empirical studies on two traditional industries in Kerala, demonstrating the importance of informal technological-information exchanges and on informal knowledge-exchange networks. We draw lessons from these and show how policy and technology prescription mechanisms must appreciate and be sensitive to the role of informal networks and knowledge exchanges. The research also attempts to broaden our conceptual understanding of learning in low-tech environments. The second part of the thesis is a modelling and simulation exercise of informal know-how exchange among co-located agents in a rural low-tech cluster. Through this exercise we see how boundedly rational agents in a rural traditional technology cluster exchange knowledge purely through informal means of exchange of know-how by interacting with other networked agents in the cluster. This interaction is done despite heterogeneities in the social composition of the cluster, despite the fact that R&D in the conventional sense is impossible and with negligible training from any external body such as the State. When we deal with rural traditional-technology clusters inhabited by economic agents whose only source of new knowledge is informal interaction and defensive innovation, enquiring on efficient network architecture is necessary, but the analysis has to be coloured with the complex social relations that are inevitable in such clusters.


Selected publications by Anant Kamath