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National system of innovation in biotechnology in a developing country – a Gerschenkronian approach to biopharmaceuticals and bioagriculture in Iran

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posted on 2023-06-07, 15:55 authored by Gerannaz Baghai
This study is a qualitative analysis to investigate the extent and characteristics of the influence of the national system of innovation (NSI) on the performance of the biotechnology sector in a developing country. While developing country ?leapfrogging‘ would, at first sight, seem to contradict mainstream theorising about latecomer innovation, it fits well with a Gerschenkronian focus on therole of substitutes to overcome major stumbling blocks to economic developmentand the role of institutions such as banks in directing investment. This makes it compatible with an older, more traditional literature. Yet, even though such success can readily be understood for scale-intensive heavy industries with well-established technological trajectories, it does not seem so simple for biotech, where success is still highly uncertain, even for firms in developed countries, and where directed governance structures of the sort authors such as Gerschenkron highlight are not normally deemed useful. To identify what influences the uneven performance of the bioagricultural and biopharmaceutical sectors in Iran, a parallel approach to Gerschenkron‘s is implemented in this thesis, to determine whether the characteristics of Iran‘s NSI in biopharmaceuticals differ from those of bioagricultural sector and whether these differences explain the differing performance. The study makes extensive use of interviews as well as documentation to assess the actual unfolding of events. The findings were unexpected at the outset of the project as the uneven development in the biotechnology sector of Iran turns out to have been caused less by technological failure than by regulatory failures on the part of government. This demonstrates that while the government can speed up economic development by overcoming barriers (through for example promoting successful access to technological knowledge, research and development), it can also hamperinnovation by failing to provide appropriate legislation and to adjust laws and regulations to the stage of technological development that the biotechnology sector of a developing country has achieved. Thus Gerschenkron‘s conclusion about the state as a substitute for ?economic backwardness‘ is turned on its head


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