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Technological Innovation: Challenges and Opportunities for Developing Countries

October 3, 2017

DECRG Kuala Lumpur Seminar Series


This is a special seminar to launch two books on technological innovation and economic development by world-renowned experts, Mary Hallward-Diemeier (Senior Economic Advisor, World Bank) and William Maloney (Chief Economist). While the first book outlines the challenge to manufacturing-led development coming from recent technological advances, the second book proposes the most effective ways to promote growth-enhancing innovation in developing countries. 

  • Trouble in the Making? The Future of Manufacturing-Led Development   

    Speakers: Mary Hallward-Driemeier and Gaurav Nayyar


    Technology and globalization are threatening manufacturing’s traditional ability to deliver both productivity and jobs at a large scale for unskilled workers. Concerns about widening inequality within and across countries are raising questions about whether interventions are needed and how effective they could be. Trouble in the Making? The Future of Manufacturing-Led Development addresses three questions:

    1. How has the global manufacturing landscape changed and why does this matter for development opportunities?
    2. How are emerging trends in technology and globalization likely to shape the feasibility and desirability of manufacturing-led development in the future?
    3. If low wages are going to be less important in defining competitiveness, how can less industrialized countries make the most of new opportunities that shifting technologies and globalization patterns may bring?

    The book examines the impacts of new technologies (i.e., the Internet of Things, 3-D printing, and advanced robotics), rising international competition, and increased servicification on manufacturing productivity and employment. The aim is to inform policy choices for countries currently producing and for those seeking to enter new manufacturing markets. Increased polarization is a risk, but the book analyzes ways to go beyond focusing on potential disruptions to position workers, firms, and locations for new opportunities.




    The Innovation Paradox

    Speaker: William F. Maloney

    Co-author: Xavier Cirera


    Since Schumpeter, economists have argued that vast productivity gains can be achieved by investing in innovation and technological catch-up. Yet, as this volume documents, developing country firms and governments invest little to realize this potential, which dwarfs international aid flows. Using new data and original analytics, the authors uncover the key to this innovation paradox in the lack of complementary physical and human capital factors, particularly firm managerial capabilities, that are needed to reap the returns to innovation investments. Hence, countries need to rebalance policy away from R&D-centered initiatives—which are likely to fail in the absence of sophisticated private sector partners—and toward building firm capabilities; and they need to embrace an expanded concept of the National Innovation System that incorporates a broader range of market and systemic failures. The authors offer guidance on how to navigate the resulting innovation policy dilemma: as the need to redress these additional failures increases with distance from the frontier, government capabilities to formulate and implement the policy mix become weaker. This book is the first volume of the World Bank Productivity Project, which seeks to bring frontier thinking on the measurement and determinants of productivity to global policy makers.


  • Mary Hallward-Driemeier

    Senior Economic Adviser, Trade & Competitiveness Global Practice, World Bank

    Mary Hallward-Driemeier is the Senior Economic Adviser in the Trade & Competitiveness Global Practice at the World Bank, overseeing its analytical agenda. A Canadian national, she joined the World Bank in 1997 as a Young Professional. She has published widely on entrepreneurship, firm productivity and firm dynamics, the impact of financial crises, and women's economic empowerment. She has served as an advisor to the Chief Economist of the World Bank, a co-manager of the Jobs Group, the Deputy Director for the World Development Report 2005: A Better Investment Climate for Everyone and is a founding member of the Microeconomics of Growth Network. Her latest book is Empowering Women: Legal Rights and Economic Opportunities in Africa. Mary received her A.B. from Harvard University, her M.Sc. in Development Economics from Oxford University where she was a Rhodes Scholar, and her Ph.D. in Economics from M.I.T.

    Gaurav Nayyar

    Economist, Trade and Competitiveness Global Practice, World Bank

    Gaurav Nayyar is an Economist in the World Bank’s Trade and Competitiveness Global Practice, where he joined as a Young Professional in 2013. Previously, he was an Economics Affairs Officer in the Economic Research Division of the World Trade Organization, where he co-led the 2013 World Trade Report, Factors Shaping World Trade in the Future. Gaurav’s research interests lie primarily in the areas of economic growth, structural transformation, trade, industrialization, and poverty reduction, and he has published in a variety of academic journals on these issues. His previous book, The Service Sector in India’s Development, was published by Cambridge University Press. Gaurav holds a D.Phil in Economics from the University of Oxford, where he was a Dorothy Hodgkin Scholar. His other alma maters include the London School of Economics and Political Science, the University of Cambridge, and St. Stephen’s College, University of Delhi.

    William F. Maloney

    Chief Economist for Equitable Growth, Finance and Institutions, World Bank Group

    William F. Maloney is Chief Economist for Equitable Growth, Finance and Institutions in the World Bank Group. Previously he was Chief Economist for Trade and Competitiveness and Global Lead on Innovation and Productivity. Prior to the Bank, he ... was a Professor of Economics at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign (1990-1997) and then joined, working as Lead Economist in the Office of the Chief Economist for Latin America until 2009. From 2009 to 2014, he was Lead Economist in the Development Economics Research Group. From 2011 to 2014 he was Visiting Professor at the University of the Andes and worked closely with the Colombian government on innovation and firm upgrading issues. Mr. Maloney received his PhD in economics from the University of California Berkeley (1990), his BA from Harvard University (1981), and he studied at the University of the Andes in Bogota, Colombia (1982-83). He has published on issues related to international trade and finance, developing country labor markets, and innovation and growth. In addition to publications in academic journals, he coauthored Natural Resources: Neither Curse nor Destiny and Lessons from NAFTA, Does What you Export Matter: In Search of Empirical Guidance for Industrial Policy, as well as several flagship publications of the Latin American division of the Bank, most recently Informality: Exit and Exclusion.


  • When: Tuesday, October 3, 2017; 11:00AM-1:00PM
  • Where: World Bank Malaysia Office, Level 3, Sasana Kijang, No. 2, Jalan Dato’ Onn
  • RSVP: Kindly RSVP by Monday, October 2, 2017