Assessing absorptive capacities for sustainability technologies in emerging economies - experiences with an indicator approach
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The challenge posed by sustainable development is becoming increasingly urgent from a global perspective. For the development process in the rapidly growing economies, knowledge transfer and technology cooperation are becoming important issues. The prospect of exporting sustainability technologies can add an additional incentive for emerging economies to move towards sustainability technologies. Both strategies require absorptive capacities and technological competences in the sustainability technologies. Based on the heuristics of a system of sustainability innovation approach, these issues are analysed empirically for 15 countries. The general framework conditions are analysed using different data sources. They include R&D indicators, and survey results about the general innovation framework, but also an assessment of the importance of environmental sustainability in the analysed countries. Technological competences in the sustainability fields are a key indicator for the absorptive capacity of sustainability technologies and for the ability to export them. International patents and publications, and successes in foreign trade indicate to what extent a country is already able to 'open up' internationally. The resulting pattern shows various strengths and weaknesses of the countries. Based on the results, the countries are grouped into 4 different clusters, with different starting points for developing strategies and policy discourses on how to strengthen their absorptive capacities. A disussion about the usefulness of such an indicator approach shows various strengths and weaknesses. Clearly the use of such indicators must be accompanied by careful interpretations, reflections about the limits of the indicators, and additional qualitative analysis.