The evolution of technologies, industries and regions

In the earlier research on technological evolution in the 1970-1995 period, attention was mainly paid to either a whole economy or a single sector or technological paradigm. It is broadly understood from this research that different industries and technologies evolve at different rates. This means that over time, some industries may be more important than… Continue reading The evolution of technologies, industries and regions

Disruption, radical and incremental innovation

I am continuing with my sprint to write down the ideas and concepts that I am explaining regularly at different events and meetings (The earlier posts are all available on www.cunningham.org.za). The ideas about the fourth industrial revolution being disruptive are now discussed and repeated even by people who have very little understanding of technology… Continue reading Disruption, radical and incremental innovation

Becoming better at tracking how technologies change over time

The subject of how technologies evolve over time have been receiving a lot of attention over the last 40 years. Actually, much of the research work done in the late 80s and 90s are still relevant today. With all the talk of the fourth industrial revolution, the attention has shifted towards innovations coming from elsewhere… Continue reading Becoming better at tracking how technologies change over time

Pondering disruptions and industrial revolutions

South African's visit industrial heritage brownfield in Germany in 2009

I am asked almost daily about my opinion about “the fourth industrial revolution”, technological disruptions and the impact on jobs. Depending on who asks, I might fire off a statement like “I don’t believe there is a fourth industrial revolution underway”. Or perhaps I might be a little bit more popular and say “I don’t… Continue reading Pondering disruptions and industrial revolutions

The difference between the terms Fourth Industrial Revolution and Industrie 4.0 matters

There are two terms that many of my clients use interchangeably, which really bothers me. The first is the term “the Fourth Industrial Revolution”, and the other is “Industrie 4.0”. What bothers me is that these two labels represent two concepts that only partially overlap. Sometimes they are conjoined with an “and” in a sweeping… Continue reading The difference between the terms Fourth Industrial Revolution and Industrie 4.0 matters

Identifying firms to work with to induce upgrading of industries

Businesses absorb knowlege from other businesses that are economically competent

This is a revised edition of a blog post I wrote back in 2011. When working on the improvement of innovation systems in developing countries, we have to work with firms. These firms have several roles, and there are three units of analysis: The firm is an important unit of analysis of innovative practices (product,… Continue reading Identifying firms to work with to induce upgrading of industries

Innovation systems in Metropolitan Regions of developing countries

During 2015 Frank Waeltring and I were commissioned by the GIZ Sector Project “Sustainable Development of Metropolitan Regions” (on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), Division 312 – Water, Urban Development, Transport) to write a discussion paper about a hands-on approach to innovation systems promotion in metropolitan regions in developing countries. The discussion paper… Continue reading Innovation systems in Metropolitan Regions of developing countries

Series: Building technological capability

In the next few posts I will focus on building technological capability in developing countries. I am specifically thinking of Sub-Saharan Africa as I write these posts, but I am sure that some of the ideas will be relevant to my colleagues working in other parts of the world. What do I mean with technological… Continue reading Series: Building technological capability

Linking: Rodrik on industrialisation

One of the leading scholars on the topic of industrialization is Prof Dani Rodrik. Two of his recent blogposts are relevant for the readers of my blog. The most recent post by Prof Rodrik is titled “Premature deindustrialization in the developing world“. In this article he explains that industrialization is affecting the developing world more… Continue reading Linking: Rodrik on industrialisation

The oblique search for new industrial opportunities

Industrial policy is typically set at national level. It is often aspirational and attempting to “stretch” an economy into new kinds of production and value addition. Programmes are designed, targets are set such as doubling manufacturing contribution of x% within 7 years. Therefore it is sometimes disconnected from the present as it seeks a new… Continue reading The oblique search for new industrial opportunities