Effects of intellectual monopoly capitalism on the peripheries

Why we need new development policies under intellectual monopoly capitalism


Organizations from peripheral1 countries do not occupy a significant place in the innovation networks of the intellectual monopolies analysed in previous chapters. Nevertheless, this does not mean that they are exempted from the effects of intellectual monopoly capitalism, which we have argued is a global phenomenon. These effects are the focus of this book’s final part. In this and the following chapters, we elaborate on how intellectual monopoly capitalism expands the gap between the centre(s) and the periphery(ies) by further limiting development opportunities in the latter while favouring value appropriation by the former.

Following the Dependency Theory, underdevelopment is twofold. It refers both to the peripheries’ specific features and to the interplay between developed and underdeveloped countries (see for instance, the seminal work of Dos Santos, 1970). Building on this tradition, we elaborate on specificities of the peripheries vis-a-vis transformations in the core under intellectual monopoly capitalism. We highlight two new forms of unequal exchange (Amin, 1974; Emmanuel, 1972): knowledge extractivism and data extractiv- ism, which can be considered as particular cases of what we call intangibles extractivism. These forms of extractivism may or may not take place as predatory practices defined as direct manifestations of superior force since, frequently, intangibles extractivism is a practice that goes unnoticed, as in the case of what will be called blind knowledge transfer in Chapter 13.

Knowledge extractivism refers to science and technology from the peripheries that are monetized in core countries, usually by corporate intellectual monopolies and eventually by academic intellectual monopolies. This form of extractivism mainly affects leading universities and public research organizations from so-called emerging or middle-income countries. Chapters 12 and 13 further elaborate on this form of extractivism for selected case studies.

Concerning data, we argue that a new layer in the international division of labour is emerging. It splits the world between raw data providers and a handful of data-driven intellectual monopolies (see Chapters 7 and 8). These corporations extract, process and analyse raw data, producing digital intelligence that is afterwards monetized (UNCTAD, 2019). Unprocessed data is valueless, but as continuous streams of data are centralized and processed with deep learning and neural networks, algorithms improve by themselves and learn faster. Peripheral countries (and even Europe) are net providers of raw data and pay for digital intelligence. Some authors conceive this unequal exchange as a new form of colonialism, dubbed data or digital colonialism since data is grabbed from around the world but monetized in a few companies from the United States with China in a (distant) second place (Couldry & Mejias, 2019a, 2019b; Kwet, 2019).

Intangibles extractivism result in a higher concentration of intangible assets in the hands of a few corporations from the core, which expands their rents at the expense of knowledge and data produced in the peripheries. A vicious cycle is established between intangibles extractivism and the lack of technological autonomy in the peripheries.

Hence, reviewing ways to overcome technological dependency becomes all the more critical under intellectual monopoly capitalism. To that end, this chapter assesses policy advice given by the National Innovation Systems’ (NIS) approach, including Mazzucato’s (2015) Entrepreneurial State. Additionally, the chapter analyses Global Value Chains (GVC) upgrading recommendation (Gereffi, 2014). We will do so in connection with catching-up as a strategy to develop technological capabilities (Perez & Soete, 1988). All these frameworks are interconnected. As explained by Aro- cena (2018), both NIS and catching-up literature grew inspired by the experience of some East Asian countries. Furthermore, scholars working within all these frameworks have recognized that even if their communities have remained detached, they share a concern for development and the certainty that developing autonomous technological capabilities is indispensable for economic development. Attempts to combine innovation systems with GVC were driven by these objectives (Jurowetzki et al., 2018; Lema et ah, 2019; Pietrobelli & Rabellotti, 2009, 2011).

The rest of this chapter is organized as follows. Section 2 overviews innovation studies as well as GVC upgrading policy recommendations for development. Next, Section 3 explores the conceptual limits of the overviewed policies under intellectual monopoly capitalism considering the historical traits of the peripheries. Section 4 concludes.

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