Technology, Competitiveness and Radical Policy Change: The Case of Brazil

Technology, Competitiveness and Radical Policy Change: The Case of Brazil

Technology, Competitiveness and Radical Policy Change: The Case of Brazil

Technology, Competitiveness and Radical Policy Change: The Case of Brazil

Synopsis

This volume investigates the limited effectiveness of technology policy in the inward-oriented industrialization model of the past. It looks at the political structures that compromise the transition to the development model, and the restructuring effort within Brazilian industrial firms.

Excerpt

Technology, industrial competitiveness, and radical policy change are the key issues of the present study.

Radical policy change. in the past developing countries undertook efforts to diminish their dependence on imponderables of the world market by building up a more or less complete national industrial base and protecting it with a variety of tariff and nontariff import barriers. the theoretical foundation and justification of these attempts was the concept of import-substituting industrialization (ISI) developed at the beginning of the 1950s. in many countries isi policies gave rise for a protracted period to high rates of economic growth and the development of a large-scale industrial base. But they also led to distortions and immanent problems, and these, based as they were on one-sidedly inward-looking policies, ultimately proved isi to be a dead-end street. Following attempts in the 1960s (which for the most part failed) to achieve a more pronounced outward orientation, and some isolated radical reorientations in the 1970s, most inward-looking countries, at the latest since the eruption of the debt crisis, came under strong pressure to alter their policies radically. Core elements of structural adjustment programs imposed on these countries from outside, or developed by them on their own initiative, included reduction of the level of state intervention, strengthening of market forces, and a radical shift in foreign trade policy.

Industrial competitiveness. Various semi-industrialized countries found that the efficiency levels of their firms and their ability to adjust rapidly to altered framework conditions and heightened competition were low (Esser 1992, 11f.). Business collapses, sometimes even culminating in the demise of entire industries, were not rare. Competitiveness is thus a difficult challenge even for industrially advanced developing countries-the existence of an industry offering random-quality products at high prices in a sheltered domestic market is one thing, the existence of an efficient and competitive industry up to the levels of efficiency and quality customary in the world market is quite a different matter.

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