Motivation and activities for technological learning, entrepreneurship, innovation, and creativity are driving forces of economic development in Asian countries. In the early stages of technological development, technological learning and entrepreneurship are efficient ways in which to catch up with advanced countries because firms can accumulate skills and knowledge quickly at relatively low risk. In the later stages of technological development, however, innovation and creativity become more important. This study aims to identify a) the factors (learning capabilities) that influence technological learning performance and b) barriers to enhancing innovation capabilities for the creative economy and organizations.
The major part of this study is related to learning capabilities in the post-catch-up era. Based on a literature review and observations from Korean experiences, this study proposes a technological learning model composed of various influencing factors on technological learning. Three hypotheses are derived, and data are collected from Korean machine tool manufacturers. Intense interviews with CEOs and R&D directors are conducted using structured questionnaires. Statistical analysis, such as correlation and ANOVA are then carried out. Furthermore, this study addresses how to enhance innovation capabilities to move forward. Innovation enablers and barriers are identified by case studies and policy analysis.
The results of the empirical study identify several levels of firms’ learning capabilities and activities such as a) stock of technology, b) potential of technical labor, c) explicit technological efforts, d) readiness to learn, e) top management support, f) a formal technological learning system, g) high learning motivation, h) appropriate technology choice, and i) specific goal setting. These learning capabilities determine firms’ learning performance, especially in the early stages of development. Furthermore, it is found that the critical factors for successful technological learning vary along the stages of technology development.
Throughout the statistical and policy analyses, this study confirms that technological learning can be understood as an intrinsic principle of the technology development process. Firms perform proactive and creative learning in the late stages, while reactive and imitative learning prevails in the early stages.
In addition, this study identifies the driving forces or facilitating factors enhancing innovation performance in the post catch-up era. The results of the preliminary case studies and policy analysis show some facilitating factors such as a) the strategic intent of the CEO and corporate culture, b) leadership and change agents, c) design principles and routines, d) ecosystem and collaboration with partners, and e) intensive R&D investment.