Alternative technological paths in new NR-related industries: the case of seeds in Argentina and Brazil
The article examines the accumulation of innovation capabilities in natural resource-related (NR) industries. More, specifically it addresses the case of seed firms operating in Argentina and Brazil by investigating both the level of capabilities attained and the type of technological paths followed by the examined firms. To address these issues, the paper presents exploratory case studies of eight seed firms in Argentina and Brazil, including private domestic and foreign firms as well as a public company. Our study shows that highly innovative seed firms have emerged in Argentina and Brazil, in connection with the recent expansion of the agricultural sector in both countries. They have developed advanced level of scientific and technological capabilities as well as some outstanding innovative outputs, however, in some cases, results suggest that some kind of non-technological capabilities have limited their ability to fully capture the rent generated by their innovations. The analysis also shows that firms have opted for different technological paths. Regulatory burdens, market and knowledge discontinuities and context-specific agro-ecological requirements contribute to explain the technological paths chosen. These findings raise important issues for research and policy, as they are crucial for understanding the effective development potential of newly developed and fast changing NR industries in developing countries.