Inderscience Publishers

The dynamics of technological learning inside the latecomer firm: evidence from the capital goods industry in Brazil

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This article focuses on the implications of the intra-firm learning processes for the direction and rate of latecomer firm-level technological capability accumulation. This relationship is examined in a capital goods firm – producer of equipment and complete plants for pulp and paper mills – during its lifetime of 24 years. Using a single case study design, this article draws from first-hand empirical evidence gathered through one-year fieldwork. The framework for capability identifies three technological functions: engineering activities and project management, operational processes and practices, and process equipment. The framework for learning identifies four learning processes. These are examined on the basis of four features: variety, intensity, functioning, and interaction. In addition to clarifying how learning processes work within the latecomer firm, this article contributes to providing a concrete notion of the time-frame to materialise the returns, in terms of innovative capability building, expected by managers from their learning efforts over time.

Keywords: technological learning, latecomer firms, innovative capability, capital goods industry, Brazil, organisational learning, industrialising economies, intra-firm learning, pulp and paper industry

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