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Title: Technological progress in a developing country through 'special technology infrastructures': a case study of Bangladesh
Author: Sharif, Taimur R. M.
ISNI:       0000 0004 2733 7746
Awarding Body: London South Bank University
Current Institution: London South Bank University
Date of Award: 2011
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The notion of catching up has its antecedents in historical studies on the industrial transformation of countries such as the Germany, the US and Japan. More recent studies have focussed on the NICs of Asia and Latin America. In a similar fashion, this study deals with issues of technological mastery by the developing countries (DCs) while ‘catching-up’ towards narrowing the ‘technology gap’ with the leaders. In doing so, the study asks specific questions about the nature and operational features of some purpose-built schemes such as ‘export processing zones’ (EPZs) and similar models aiming to promote technology transfers (TT) for the DCs via foreign investments, and focuses on the differential elements that made East Asian schemes distinct from the DC-models. In the context of the extensive literature survey dealing with similar models operating in the developed economies (DEs) known as ‘Technology Parks’ (TPs), the study observed conceptual and linguistic ambiguities between EPZs and TPs. One of the aims of this study was therefore to develop an unambiguous conceptual framework of ‘special technology infrastructure’ (STI) – a term introduced and used in this study to clarify and locate zones and schemes such as TPs, EPZs, IPs (Industrial Parks), SEZs (Special Economic Zones), etc. in the form of a STI-hierarchy. This research found that, although originated from IPs, TPs are clearly different from the EPZs in terms of their research orientation whereas EPZs show business-orientation at the time of their inceptions. The study found that in order to follow the East Asian pattern, a DC-EPZ needs to ensure its standard of operation similar as ‘business incubator’ while transitioning its orientation from business towards research. The empirical study concluded that a DC like Bangladesh has the potential to uplift the status of their EPZs to function like a TP due to the resemblance of EPZs’ standard of services to the ones provided by business incubator’ – seemingly a gateway to TPs. The chances of narrowing the technology gap was assessed to be higher due to: (a) the observed similarity of operations between firms in the EPZ and those in the domestic tariff area (DTA); and (b) the increasing share of capital intensive industries such as heavy engineering, automotives, etc. Drawing particular attention to the significance of the concept of ‘dated labor’ (workers with the latest know-whys) as postulated by ‘vintage growth models’, the study recommended that, in order to facilitate catching up, the country needs to uplift the national technological capability (TC) up to the level that would match the global standard and would: (a) enable workers to handle the latest technologies and machines; and (b) induce MNCs to not only carry on with their marketing research activities but also outsource innovation and design-related R&D activities in the EPZ-hosting countries. The study proposed further research on: (i) vintage models to revive and incorporate the concept of ‘dated labor’ in empirical studies focused on ‘catching up’ and ‘technology gap’ issues; and (ii) to improve our knowledge of the causal factors of technical progress as well as to overcome difficulties and weaknesses with their estimation procedures.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available