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Technology transfer in transitional economies : the case of Mexico



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Knowledge creation processes and the innovation systems through which it is transferred for the benefit of society are the economic driver of industrial economies in the globalized era, yet developing countries seeking to move through the transition from developing to developed status are struggling . A variety of theories and a range of speculations have been offered as to why some nations are more innovative than others, however little of this literature examines the theoretical and practical applicability of innovation models based on industrial societies for developing nations. This thesis examines a selection of theoretical innovation system models, analyzes their roots and assesses their applicability to transition economies where various pieces of the system present structural differences relative to developed nations. This thesis uses Mexico as a case study. In the fifteen years since the 1994-95 collapse of Mexico’s financial sector and the resulting economic crisis, the Mexican economy has made impressive progress towards macro-economic consolidation and stability. The OECD (2004) observes that the inflation rate has fallen from around 50% during the economic collapse of 1995 to about 4% in 2006. GDP growth has averaged 3.2% in the period from 1994 to 2008 (compared to the OECD average of 2.7%). As a partner in the North American Free Trade Agreement, trade liberalization has allowed Mexico to consolidate its export base and to specialize in medium- and high-technology manufacturing. However, the industrial sector in Mexico still shows a slow pace in developing, adopting and investing in technology. The Mexican industrial sector is lead by multinational firms that have located in Mexico due to the cheap costs of labour, while most of the research and development performed by these firms takes place outside of Mexico. Mexico’s policy for S&T seems to show a disconnect between the discourse and practice. Indicators show that Mexico considerably lags in S&T development. S&T development has not contributed to facilitating the country's positioning as one of the top ten most competitive nations in the world. Rather, technology transfer outcomes in the country, relative to other transitional economies, manifest an increasing deceleration in Mexico's S&T competitiveness. This thesis contrasts the innovation system in which technology transfer processes navigate in Mexico to the leading literature on theoretical models of innovation. This process facilitates identifying crucial barriers and challenges of the Mexican system of innovation that need to be addressed in order to achieve a level of S&T development that would contribute to facilitating Mexico's transition to a developed economy.



innovation, national system of innovation, technology transfer, transitional economies, economic growth, Mexico



Master of Science (M.Sc.)


Interdisciplinary Studies


Interdisciplinary Studies


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