This paper explores technology upgrading of BRICS economies based on a three-pronged approach, which distinguishes between the intensity of technology upgrading, structural change and global interaction. We develop a statistical framework based on patent indicators to measure technological upgrading and apply it to BRICS economies in the period 1980–2015. The paper shows that there is no single path of technology upgrading. Instead, we find several unique paths with different trade-offs between intensity, structural change and the nature of the global interaction. All BRICS economies display increased generation of frontier technological activities, while China and Russia have also increased the intensity of behind frontier technological activities. China has also diversified its technology knowledge base and entered into dynamic frontier areas. With increasing intensity of frontier technology activities of the BRICS, the relative, but not absolute, the importance of foreign actors and international collaboration has declined. However, BRICS economies seem to lack the organisational and complementary capabilities to match the extent of technology sourcing from abroad, observed in high-income countries. Our result represents the application of a new conceptual framework and contributes to assessing the sustainability of innovation-based growth among BRICS.
Bibliographical notePublished online 20 September 2018
- Comparative analysis
- Patent indicators
- Technology upgrading