Technological Catch-Up and Indigenous Institutional Infrastructures in Latecomer Natural Resource-Related Industries: An Exploration of the Role of EMBRAPA in Brazil's Soybean and Forestry-Based Pulp and Paper Industries

IRIBA Working Paper: 03

48 Pages Posted: 25 Sep 2014 Last revised: 27 Nov 2014

Date Written: July 2014

Abstract

This article reports the results of an exploratory study on the role of indigenous institutional infrastructures in the accumulation of world-leading innovative capabilities (technological catch-up) in natural resource-related industries in the context of developing/emerging economies. These issues are examined from the perspective of the Brazilian Corporation for Agricultural Research (EMBRAPA) and Brazil’s soybeans and forestry-based pulp and paper industries. This article suggests that: (1) EMBRAPA has been providing, in different ways, an effective contribution to technological catch-up and international competitiveness of these two industries over the past decades; (2) One important aspect of EMBRAPA’s effectiveness has been its research orientation to specific local needs and demands; (3) However, the innovative process led by EMBRAPA is far from linear but based on systemic interactions with diverse components of the indigenous institutional infrastructure and industry partners; (4) In the case of the soybeans industry, there is a growing need for EMBRAPA to work on the basis of networked partnerships, especially with subsidiaries of multinational enterprises (MNEs); (5) Innovative activities that have been generating significant impact on productivity growth do not necessarily reflect only R&D efforts, but effective creative imitation efforts; (6) Finally, the article challenges negative and pessimistic views on the contribution of natural resource-related industries to industrial development by demonstrating some benefits that can be achieved from efforts on consistent innovative activities in these industries. The emulation of Brazil’s experience with innovation and competitiveness in the soybeans and forestry-based industries by African developing/emerging economies will depend on the manner in which they will develop their industry-level technological capabilities with systemic institutional infrastructures.

Keywords: Technological capability, institutions, natural and agricultural resources, agricultural industry, developing economies

JEL Classification: L73, O13, O30, Q16

Suggested Citation

Figueiredo, Paulo N., Technological Catch-Up and Indigenous Institutional Infrastructures in Latecomer Natural Resource-Related Industries: An Exploration of the Role of EMBRAPA in Brazil's Soybean and Forestry-Based Pulp and Paper Industries (July 2014). IRIBA Working Paper: 03, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2498051 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2498051

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