Catching up or developing differently? Techno-institutional learning with a sustainable planet in mind

Tilman Altenburg
External Publications (2021)

in: Jeong-Dong Lee / Keun Lee / Dirk Meissner / Slavo Radosevic / Nicholas Vonortas, Challenges of technology and economic catch-up in emerging economies, Oxford: Oxford University Press,

ISBN: 978-0-19-289604-9

Developing as a latecomer country is tricky. It implies competing with established production systems that benefit from know-how, economies of scale and network externalities accumulated over decades. It is thus unsurprisung that very few countries have been able to close the technological and income gap. Those that did, like South Korea and China, started by inviting foreign investors, buying licenses and emulating the early movers‘ proven business models until they had enough capabilies to chart their own pathways and become wealthy knowldege societies – and role models for other latecomers. Global warming and other major environmental crises however reveal the unsustainability of a techno-economic paradim based on burning fossil fuel and maximisation of material throughput and consumption. Hence, latecomers can no longer build on emulating technologies and institutions, but need to start deviating from established practices early on. Still, the successful country cases hold important policy lessons for them.

About the author

Altenburg, Tilman

Economic Geography


Further experts

Inacio da Cunha, Marcelo

Economics, Geography