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Title: Firm-level upgrading in low-and-medium-technology industries in emerging markets : the role of learning in networks
Author: Yoruk, Deniz Eylem
ISNI:       0000 0004 5349 5334
Awarding Body: University of Sussex
Current Institution: University of Sussex
Date of Award: 2014
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This thesis investigates how involvement in networks contributes to firm-level upgrading in emerging markets. In the 1990s, the international de-localisation of production and global integration has brought about a process of upgrading for firms in the transition and latecomer industrialising countries that allowed them to approach the technological frontier and enhance their competitive position. Hence, the firm-level upgrading became a process of improving technological and organisational deficiencies in the firms' knowledge base, particularly through knowledge transfer and learning in networks they have involved in, enabling them to adjust to the new environment by doing things differently and/or better as well as doing different things. The literature on upgrading stresses the effects of value chains and production networks on industrial upgrading, while the role of various learning mechanisms is largely unexplored. Employing an evolutionary perspective, this thesis contributes to existing analyses by considering the role of knowledge networks and by using ‘learning in networks' as a bridging concept, by which the interaction between inter- and intraorganisational knowledge transfer is demonstrated to have significant bearing on hastening the process of catching-up in emerging markets. Specifically, this thesis examines what characteristics of the networks of Polish food-processing and clothing firms affect learning mechanisms in an inter-organisational context and how these mechanisms combined with internal factors supporting internalisation of externally acquired knowledge (including firm strategy orientation) contribute to various types of firm-level upgrading during the period 1989-2001. Methodologically, this thesis proposes a dynamic model of firm-level upgrading with a novel unit of analysis: the relationships of the firm. So, rather than using firm case studies, it provides statistical evidence typically lacking in the upgrading research, while not sacrificing the in-depth nature of case studies, as each relationship of the firms studied has been investigated through face-to-face interviews that are translated into a dataset of relationships analysed using multinomial logistic regressions. First, the network-related characteristics of external learning mechanisms were identified and then used as a reference point in the upgrading analysis. The results for product upgrading largely confirm the previous findings in the literature. However, the upgrading of production processes is a function of learning from advances in science and technology through knowledge networks. Strikingly, learning-by-interacting in production networks actually appears to impede managerial (rather than functional) upgrading, a previously unexplored upgrading type, which is also shown to be a prerequisite for functional upgrading. While learning-by-training and research within the firm is a potent condition for external learning mechanisms to contribute to all of the upgrading types, for successful functional upgrading, it is a must. These findings show the importance of the use of an integrative approach to learning in research on upgrading.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: HD0072 Economic development. Development economics. Economic growth ; HD2321 Industry