SECTORAL INNOVATION SYSTEMS: AN APPLICATION OF THE CONCEPT IN THE BRAZILIAN AND FRENCH FLUID MILK PRODUCTION CHAIN
Palavras-chave:technological innovation, sectoral innovation systems, food industry, fluid milk
ResumoThe aim of this study is to test a new framework in order to evaluate some fundamental institutional, technological and organizational factors in the innovation process carried out by food processing firms. We use case studies and the sectoral innovation system - SIS approach to give evidence about the innovation process carried out by fluid milk processors in the French and Brazilian sectoral innovation system. The SIS´ approach is defined as the system of firms active in developing and making a sector’s products and in generating and utilizing a sector’s technologies; such a system of firms is related in two different ways: through processes of interaction and cooperation in artifact-technology development and through processes of competition and selection in innovative and market activities. The forces that account for the dynamics of SIS and shape their spatial boundaries are represented in the concept of “technological regime” which is defined by the level and type of opportunity and appropriability conditions, by the cumulativeness of technological knowledge, by the nature of knowledge, and the means of technology transmission and communication. We choose a research design with one unity of analysis (food processors that recently launched new products and explored new markets in the fluid milk production chain) and multiple case studies (two firms in Brazil and two in France which launched some of the principal product innovations in this market during the 90’s, respectively: Premium UHT milk, sterilized milk, organic UHT milk, and microfiltrated milk). The structure and strategies developed by suppliers, the dairy industry and the retail food distribution system are undergoing rapid change in those countries helping to show the robustness of the phenomenon across different and complex contexts. Afterwards, we compare enterprises with the same structural profile in the two countries: multinational enterprises – MNE (very large multi-product/brand firms) and small and medium enterprises - SME. This configuration is specially useful and robust to confront the theoretical basis, where each case is selected by the researcher to confirm convergent or contrasting evidence between the cases. Finally, the empirical observations are compared with similar and conflicting theory about innovation in the food industry in the hope to generalize them to theoretical propositions.
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