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Innovation in Developing Countries (Leapfrogging)

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Anneke Zwart
Student (University), Netherlands

Innovation in Developing Countries (Leapfrogging)

Leapfrogging is a way for developing countries to benefit from earlier skills and advancements of the developed world by skipping altogether a technological stage. For example, many developing countries have implemented mobile technologies by going wireless directly while skipping 20th-century fixed-line technologies.

LIMITS OF LEAPFROGGING
However, there seem to be limits to the success of leapfrogging new technologies by developing countries. An example of a failing leapfrogging project can be found in Ethiopia, where the country aimed to provide all Ethiopian hospitals with internet connections. It turned out that the need to invest in more basic needs in hospitals made the project quite irrelevant at the time. As a result, the project was abandoned.

This example brings forward the following question: Should investments of developing countries rather be spent to the more basic needs that are often lacking in the developing world, such as schoolrooms, basic forms of infrastructures and intermediate technologies. Sometimes, the gap between the new technologies and the existing capacity (technologies / resources / infrastructures etc) in developing countries could be too large for new technologies to be successfully diffused.

ROLE OF INTERMEDIATE TECHNOLOGIES
A World Bank report argues that in order to successfully leapfrog advanced technologies, a country needs a solid foundation of intermediate technologies. Without that, new technologies will only be diffused to a small minority of people in a country instead of being widely diffused. In such cases, the benefits of those new technologies will not become generally available, only the richest will benefit. This, in turn, may even contribute to increasing inequalities.
In other words, intermediate technologies are essential to go high-tech. A country's capacity (resources; basic forms of infrastructures; intermediate technologies) is an important factor that determines the potential of new technologies to be successfully absorbed and diffused.

⇒ What are your experiences with or thoughts about leapfrogging new technologies?

Source: The Economist (2008) "The Limits of Leapfrogging"

 

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More on Disruptive Innovation:
Summary
Discussion Topics
topic Innovation Strategy: the Three Horizons of Growth (McKinsey)
topic The Jobs to be Done Approach (JTBD) and Disruptive Innovation
topic Disruptive versus Incremental Innovation
topic Disruptive Innovation: Product versus Platform
topic Tips for Innovation Strategy
topic Strategic Options for Old-Technology Firms
topic Diversity of Perspective is Key to Disruptive Innovation
topic List of Disruptive Technologies
topic How can Incumbents (Established Corporates) Respond to Disruptors?
topic How to Develop Disruptive Innovation Skills?
topic Timing is Important to Make an Innovative Idea Disruptive
topic How to Find Innovative Ideas? From Analogous Markets...
topic Three Types of Innovation (Christensen)
topic WHAT is Being Innovated? The 4 Ps of Innovation
topic Is Disruptive Innovation Radical? is it a Breakthrough?
topic Disruptive Innovation: What Causes the Creative Leap?
topic How to Sustain Disruptive Innovation?
topic Leadership Skills / Approaches for Successful Innovation
topic Innovation Ideas in Economic Slowdowns
topic The Hybrid Innovation Approach to Technological Innovation
topic Examples of Disruptive Innovation
topic Ways to Incorporate Disruptive Innovation as Part of the Management Agenda
🔥 The Six Ds of Exponential Technologies (Diamandis)
topic The Word 'Disruptive' in Disruptive Innovation
topic What is Disruptive Innovation Exactly? Definition
topic Comparison Disruptive Innovation versus Blue Ocean Strategy
topic Slow Innovation: PROs, CONs and Tips
topic Disruptive Innovation and Public Sector Organisations
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topic Is Value Innovation Equal to Disruptive Innovation?
topic Why is Disruptive Innovation Difficult?
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