The main focus of this book is innovation for developing countries: what is the innovation for, what are the current conditions of the innovation, and how to effectively innovate in developing economies. It contains the latest insights and analyses of innovation based on intensive interviews as well as primary and secondary data of manufacturing firms in developing countries, Vietnam and Laos in particular. Innovation requires something new. Integration of deep understanding of innovation and econometric analyses are a “new combination” in this book, which contrasts with other, similar books in the field. This new approach may benefit policy makers as well as scholars and firms in poor countries.
The main points of the book are summarized as follows: First, for most poor countries “learning innovation” is considered the key to economic growth rather than “leading-edge innovation”, which is a more popular theme in similar books on innovation. Second, an overwhelming majority of innovations currently used in poor countries are developed in advanced countries, so technology transfer and learning from the latter are a fundamental source of innovation in the former. Third, a surprisingly high rate of firms (around 50%) reported that they introduced new or significantly improved products or processes in poor countries, and this high innovation rate is a great benefit to be enhanced by government policies. Fourth, the common factors driving innovation of manufacturing firms in Vietnam and Laos are (1) human capital, (2) social capital, and (3) innovation in the past. Fifth, the impact of innovation on firm performance is found to be mixed in these countries. Sixth, so far almost all studies on innovation have focused on product or process innovation, but additional light is shed here on organizational innovation.