Developing countries have applied industrial policies since the 1960s, the initial objective of which was development through industrialization. In the current context, where industrialized economies are striving to stay ahead in terms of technology and innovation, and where emerging economies are trying to catch up, less developed economies have therefore initiated policies to promote industrialization. Thus, given these changes, it quickly became necessary to ask whether these innovation policies based on technologies, science and industry could generate development prospects for developing countries?
However, it would seem that direct and traditional industrial policy instruments have not made it possible for developing countries to catch up with developed countries in terms of economic growth, except for certain countries in South East Asia where industrial policy combined with other trade, technological and other policies have made it possible to follow a growth trajectory.
Industrial policies in developing countries
Government intervention in industry is an ancient practice which has developed according to the rhythms and methods of the different countries. Economic history provides a flourishing of different practices depending on the country. As for the concept of industrial policies specific to the cases of developing countries, it takes on a very special character because the main objective of these countries is first to develop the industrial sector and the economy as a whole.
At the outset, the definition of industrial policy for the case of developing countries is based on the premise that industrialization is the engine of development. Thus in the current context of a deep globalization, industrial policy becomes a policy centered on competitiveness defined by Michael Porter (1993) as "a set of State interventions including both interventions on the business environment essential for promote the development of the business fabric and the improvement of competitiveness and direct interventions with preferably targeted companies in few but well identified sectors, to help it overcome the importance of bottlenecks.
Currently, in a context characterized by profound upheavals in the international environment (the Arab Spring, the international financial crisis but also the intensification of competition) industrial policy is confronted with a series of changes, namely: the new international division of labor, waves of privatization and deregulation, increased competition, free trade, financial flows, the emergence of technological innovations in the ICT field, widespread deregulation in the financial sector, the rise production and cross-border trade or even relocation. These are all elements which have contributed to affect industrial policy.
Therefore, flexibility of organization and industrial structures has become the rule. Productive systems are increasing in technology and product life cycles are shortening. Competitive advantages are more dynamic. Thus, the economies which succeeded in creating a more competitive dynamic are today those which manage to better face the challenges of globalization. It is in this logic that competitiveness is found today at the heart of the industrial policies adopted by developing countries forced to set up efficient and coherent national innovation systems in order to be able to facilitate transfer of technology and knowledge from developed countries.
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