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Economic catching-up, Technological progress and Intellectual property rights

Abstract : The objective of this thesis is to propose an answer to the question: Can intellectual property rights policies such as TRIPS be beneficial for developing countries and their catching-up process?To answer this question, we first look at the technological dynamics behind the catching-up process. The first chapter thus provides an empirical and analytical update on the catching-up and falling behind model by Verspagen (1991), which focuses on studying the role of the innovation and imitation dynamics in the catching up process. Mainly, we find that while the innovation dynamic is important for the catching-up process, the imitation dynamic is necessary to ensure that countries build solid capabilities that will enable them to prosper. The efficiency of the imitation dynamics is dependent on policy factors that make up the learning capability of firms and ensure firms succeed assimilating knowledge.The second chapter focuses on understanding the way those technological transfers from developed to developing countries can occur, we focus on studying the mechanisms behind two main channels, that is international trade and FDIs, which represent the main form of North-South interactions studied in the literature. From this chapter we conclude that there is a rich diversity of complex mechanisms.In the third chapter, we thus build an agent-based model (ABM) to represent those North-South interactions and their complexities, with an evolutionary economics approach. The model allows us to study a particular mechanism: transfers through the local labour mobility, a channel seldom discussed in the literature. This allows us to study the impact FDI may have on development and catching-up outcomes. We find that while FDI from developed countries can, under the right conditions, encourage technological transfers and thus catching up, there are potential negative effects on local industries, in particular in countries largely behind.The final chapter proposes an extension of the model that introduces patents, in order to answer the main question. We find that while patents help motivate northern firms to disclose their technology and thus facilitate development, those firms would require a perfect level of enforcement that will be too harsh on local firms, block imitations and also severely hinder the southern firms’ innovative efforts, while generating limited gains for northern firms.
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Anissa Saumtally. Economic catching-up, Technological progress and Intellectual property rights. Economics and Finance. Université de Bordeaux, 2017. English. ⟨NNT : 2017BORD0829⟩. ⟨tel-01701941⟩

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