For a long time economists have warned that abundant natural resources are bad for economic development because their exploitation stunts manufacturing exports, favours rent-seeking activities by politically well-connected people, and generally leads to unsustainable policies for which, as so often, the poor end up paying the price with lost growth and opportunity. But over the last few years the so-called resource curse has been revisited as historically uninformed, theoretically unsatisfactory, empirically incorrect, and largely useless for development policy.This volume contributes to this debate by focusing on the technological trajectories of firms and research teams in resource-intensive primary sectors of Brazil, Costa Rica, Peru, and South Africa. The authors provide detailed descriptions of both failed and successful attempts at knowledge intensification of resource-based productive activities in countries that are often, incorrectly, lumped into the category of 'resource-rich underachievers'. The contributors - who combine indepth technological expertise with a theoretical grounding in the economics of learning, technological upgrading, and innovation - underline that, more than what countries produce, how they go about it is what matters to development practice.Delivering theoretical insight with practical examples, the chapters make compelling reading for both scholars and development practitioners.
Jo Lorentzen is a chief research specialist in the Education, Science, and Skills Development research program of the Human Sciences Research Council, and honorary research fellow in the School of Development Studies at the University of KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa.