University of Sussex
Ibarra_Mendoza,_Cecilia_Verónica.pdf (2.32 MB)

Capacity accumulation in three natural resource-based industries in Chile: the shifting roles and positions of doctoral graduates

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posted on 2023-06-08, 15:08 authored by Cecilia Veronica Ibarra Mendoza
Understanding technical change in late industrialised economies is the general area of this thesis. There is a lack of research and policy advice on how industry sectors develop active technological learning, particularly in economies based on natural resources and in contexts of poverty and inequality. The thesis is framed by the challenges related to production and economic performance. This thesis compares three natural resource-based industries in Chile - copper mining, fruit growing and salmon farming – focusing on the participation of doctoral graduates, taking a historical perspective. Doctoral graduates represent a small fraction of the population, but their importance in the advancement of knowledge and technological change is considered strategic. The thesis research questions are: how do doctoral graduates participate in the accumulation of producer capabilities in industry sectors; what factors are important for their participation; and what are the implications for public policy? The thesis adopts the concept Sectoral Learning Systems (SLS) (adapted from Viotti, 2001) and applies the producer capability approach (von Tunzelmann and Wang, 2007; von Tunzelmann, 2009), which is an alternative approach to conventional production theory, to understand the practice of doctoral graduates in relation to technological change. Policy analysis and recommendations are based on the concept of system alignment (von Tunzelmann, 2010), which offers possibilities for governing systems in which agents may have contradictory views and positions. Throughout, the thesis is underpinned by Bourdieu’s (2005) economic anthropological approach. His notions of field, habitus and capital are reinterpreted within the more specific science, technology and innovation studies literature. This thesis constitutes an interdisciplinary endeavour that integrates approaches from different academic traditions such that all are essential for achieving the research findings. In terms of methodology, the thesis draws on a historical study of coevolution of technology and governance for each of the three industries, complemented by in depth individual case studies. Through analytical inference, I locate doctoral graduates in the history of each field. The analysis is illustrated by the case studies of doctoral graduates’ careers. By applying the producer capability approach, I deduce the likely accumulation of scientific capabilities by doctoral graduates in each field. The results of the comparison show that copper mining, fruit growing and salmon farming display similar patterns of development in relation to their respective incorporations into the technological revolutions in each industry field. In all three cases, the state played an important role in the emergence of these industries at the national and international levels. The establishment of these industries was succeeded by periods of high profits, adoption of new technologies and low levels of innovation, followed by intense process innovation and increasing competition, and finally a period of concentration and re-structuring characterized by the development of networks of suppliers and oligopolistic industry structures. Product diversification in the dominant technological paradigm appeared towards the last period. Doctoral graduates emerged as scientific suppliers to the industries, when these industries embarked on the phase of intense process innovation, which increased demand for scientific possibilities supplied by doctoral graduates. The level of demand often was related to industry subsidies, particularly important in the fruit and salmon farming sectors. Doctoral graduates participated in active technological learning in less mature technology contexts, and in systems where the dominant producers had the capabilities for improvement and innovation. Once doctoral graduates had a position as scientific suppliers, they actively maintained and enhanced their participation in the field. Doctoral graduates also participated in shaping the structure of the fields, and in influencing policy. The thesis derives policy recommendations to strengthen active learning, particularly in relation to new product development, based on the understandings and the lessons drawn from history.


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  • eng


University of Sussex

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