The purpose of this paper is to discuss the prospects of a Southeast Asian knowledge economy in light of regional integration processes and the participation of Southeast Asia in global innovation networks.
The evidence base is a combination of quantitative data on R&D investments, patent applications and publications, with qualitative data from 40 semi-structured expert interviews conducted with innovation experts, research managers and policymakers in six ASEAN Member States.
Despite economic growth and increases in R&D inputs and outputs in individual ASEAN Member States, innovation policy at regional ASEAN level remains weak. In addition, the economic integration of the ASEAN Economic Community is progressing slowly. In this environment, evidence is presented for a certain level of regional integration when it comes to the exploitation of knowledge produced within and outside of ASEAN. While a regional market for knowledge exploitation is conceivable, this is not accompanied by the regional integration of knowledge production.
The main practical implication of this argument is the need for ASEAN policymakers to appreciate the disconnection between regional knowledge production and exploitation. This paper offers conceptual tools to engage in ASEAN-level policy discussions on this issue that can help facilitate the best possible regional outcome.
Despite several studies on the ASEAN Economic Community process, there has been no contribution so far that combines a discussion of the economic integration process with a look at the regional knowledge economy and innovation systems. This perspective does not only contribute to innovation systems literature, but also entails important policy lessons.
The research for this article has been supported with funding from the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme for research, technological development and demonstration under grant agreement no 311784. We thank our interviewees for their cooperation and the anonymous reviewers for their comments.
Degelsegger-Márquez, A., Remøe, S.O. and Trienes, R. (2018), "Regional knowledge economies and global innovation networks – the case of Southeast Asia", Journal of Science and Technology Policy Management, Vol. 9 No. 1, pp. 66-86. https://doi.org/10.1108/JSTPM-06-2017-0027
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