Firm-level Technological Upgrading Process in Low-tech Industries: the case of Clothing Industry in Brazil

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Janaina Piana
Luiza Tagliari Brustolin


There is a considerable amount of research on technological upgrading and innovation. However, the majority of studies tend to focus on R&D and patents aspects in high-tech industries. Seeking to contribute to rebalancing the analysis, we examine how occurs technological upgrading path in a low-tech industry, the clothing industry from emerging market. The low-tech industries represent around 90% of the economy of emerging countries, such as Brazil. The research design is operationalized from depth individual case study. The findings show that the clothing industry, even though characterized as low-tech, has not remained technologically stagnant, developing innovative activities and a path-follower. However, although it can be considered innovative, the industry shows little association with 4.0 technologies. The research questions biases in extant research and policy debate towards certain types of innovative capabilities, industries, and taxonomies that limit the understanding of innovation and technological catch-up in different industrial settings.

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