Institutional Support and Technological Upgrading: Evidence from Dynamic Clusters in Latin America and Asia

Rajah Rasiah, Jebamalai Vinanchiarachi


In light of wide differences in economic outcomes in the world, this paper uses an evolutionary set of lenses to examine the clusters of Buenos Aires’ automotive, Los Lagos’ salmon, Penang’s electronics and Qiaotou’s buttons with an elucidating view towards evaluating the significance of institutional support in driving technological upgrading in firms. The purpose is to demonstrate if industrial and location specificities and industrial policy instruments matter in upgrading outcomes. The results show that transnational corporations drove automotive and electronics clusters in Buenos Aires and Penang respectively, while domestic firms dominated the origin of salmon and button clusters in Los Lagos and Qiaotou. Domestic organizations have been the prime drivers of upgrading in Los Lagos and Qiaotou. Whereas the meso organizations in Los Lagos adapt knowledge from frontier clusters abroad, they are the basis of knowledge generation in Qiaotou. Whatever the differences, the role of government through institutional change has been critical in stimulating upgrading, but the extent and nature of intervention in the four clusters were industry and location specific.

Published on 7th February, 2013, in World Social and Economic Review No 2, 2013