Windows of opportunities and knowledge networks: implications for the catch-up in developing countries

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Parente, Ronaldo Couto
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This study aims to investigate the theory of catch-up cycles in the setting of developing countries. We chose the Brazilian seeds sector as the locus of investigation. In order to explain catching up and industrial leadership, as suggested by the authors, we confront changes at the global level and windows of opportunities that emerged with responses from the main company of the sector - Embrapa. In our empirical study, we made use of in-depth interviews with historical and longitudinal analysis. We found evidence that changes in key dimensions alter in importance over time, but that institutions/public policy seem to be the forces that most contribute to strong dominance of transnational companies nowadays. Moreover, differently than suggested by some authors (although they are mainly focused in the Argentinean seeds sector), we find evidence that transnational companies – particularly the Gene Giants – do are driven the process of seeds innovation in the industry. In addition, the highest amount of launching of new varieties each year is not synonymous of more (or bigger) innovation; dominant positions in the market is not directly associated with higher levels of technological innovation. In fact, market innovation – e. g., commercial approach of transnational companies, which includes financing of producers and sales distribution - seems to be, at least, as relevant as technological innovation in the setting of seeds industry.

This document represents a doctoral thesis held under the Brazilian School of Public and Business Administration of Getulio Vargas Foundation (EBAPE/FGV), developed through the elaboration of three articles. The research that resulted in the articles is within the scope of the project entitled 'Windows of opportunities and knowledge networks: implications for catch-up in developing countries', funded by Support Programme for Research and Academic Production of Faculty (ProPesquisa) of Brazilian School of Public and Business Administration (EBAPE) of Getulio Vargas Foundation.
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