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Global Production Networks and the Changing Geography of Innovation Systems: Implications for Developing Countries

Dieter Ernst

No 9, Economics Study Area Working Papers from East-West Center, Economics Study Area

Abstract: The paper addresses disruptive changes that globalization imposes on the geography of innovation systems, and identifies potential benefits that developing countries could reap from international linkages. The analysis is centered on three propositions. First, developing countries nee to blend diverse international and domestic sources of knowledge to compensate for initially weak national production and innovation systems. Second, a greater variety of international knowledge linkages are possible, as globalization reduces the spatial stickiness of innovation: the spread of global production networks (GPN) combines concentrated dispersion with systemic integration, creating new opportunities for international diffusion. We argue that GPN provide firms and industrial districts in developing countries with new opportunities for reverse knowledge outsourcing. We explore resultant challenges that define the need for public policy response, define the new agenda for industrial upgrading, and discuss what types of policies and support institutions may help to reap the benefits from network participation.

Date: 2000-11
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