Scandinavian Working Papers in Economics

Papers in Innovation Studies,
Lund University, CIRCLE - Center for Innovation, Research and Competences in the Learning Economy

No 2008/5: Building absorptive capacity in less developed countries The case of Tanzania

Astrid Szogs (), Cristina Chaminade () and Ruzana Azatyan ()
Additional contact information
Astrid Szogs: CIRCLE, Lund University, Postal: PO Box 117, Sölvegatan 16, SE-22100 Lund, Sweden
Cristina Chaminade: CIRCLE, Lund University, Postal: PO Box 117, Sölvegatan 16, SE-22100 Lund, Sweden
Ruzana Azatyan: Lund University, Postal: Sweden

Abstract: African countries lag clearly behind developed countries when it comes to accumulating technological capabilities, upgrading and catching up. Also, firms in least developed countries are characterised by very low levels of absorptive capacity. It is therefore crucial to understand how this capacity can be build so that the indigenous firms can benefit from external knowledge sources. Drawing on case study material, this paper investigates the role of intermediate organizations in facilitating technological knowledge transfer between the university and the indigenous SMEs, discussing how capabilities are built during such intermediation. Particularly, we discuss the role of NGOs facilitating the transfer of knowledge between universities and SMEs in Tanzania and the accumulation of new technological capabilities (absorptive capacity) in the latter.

Keywords: Systems of innovation; absorptive capacity; Tanzania; innovation; NGOs

JEL-codes: O30

36 pages, June 1, 2008

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