Technology transfer and industrial policy : the case of the computer industry in Mexico.
This dissertation assesses the Mexican government policy in computers during a ten
year period (1981-1991). The Mexican computer industry was created by a strategic
industrial programme which provided a package of conditions that attracted domestic
and international capital during this period. The main policy instruments used initially
were the market reserve and import permits. The programme was known in Spanish
as 'Programa de Fomento Para la Manufactura de Equipo de C6mputo, Sus
Principales M6dulos y Perifericos' or the PF Policy. The analysis follows policy and
industry performance developments (from the birth of the PF policy to its successor
the 'Programa Para la Modernizaci6n de la Industria de Computo' or PMIC). This
perspective on the policy issues raised by the programme is based mainly on the
views of firms and interest groups perspective.
The analysis is based upon a four dimensional framework developed by the author
and based upon a synthesis of theories of technological learning, technology transfer
and firms strategic behaviour. This is used to explore the impact of the PF Policy at
the firm and industry levels as well as to investigate the performance of government
agencies and the impact of the policy on users (diffusion) and social applications.
This dissertation explores the PF Policy as the first programme that in rejecting the
import substitution industrialisation (lSI) model Mexico had followed for several
decades, embraced export oriented industrialisation (EOI). This analysis explores the
changes in the regulatory environment which accompanied the transition from lSI to
EOI and considers how this shift impacted upon the performance of firms and the
computer industry. The transition to EOI resulted in greater production efficiencies,
higher quality and cheaper prices but these benefits are shown to have accrued to
large volume producing firms (a few domestic and multinational computer firms).
With regard to export generation, only the multinational computer firms have shown
significant growth rates. The emphasis on export generation, the shift to EOI and
rapid liberalisation of consumer and component electronics had a negative impact on
the generation of productive linkages within the Information Technology Complex,
e.g. the development of a horizontal layer of component producers. During this
period of transition from lSI to EOI there were conflicting objectives within the policy
environment. For example, policies were implemented to liberalise trade as part of
commitments to GATT and policies were introduced to strengthen industrial
development in the electronics sector for domestic consumption. The major failure of
the PF policy in relation to its initial objectives occurred in relation to technological
development. This is illustrated by the limited innovations that occurred over the ten
year period among domestic firms producing microcomputers and peripherals.
Despite this failure, there is evidence that technological learning occurred 'against all