Factors Affecting Technological catch-up failure in Iran’s Steel Value Chain

Document Type : Research Paper


1 Ph.D. of Science and Technology Policy Making, Mazandaran University, Babolsar, Iran.

2 .Faculty Member, Faculty of Business Management, Mazandaran University, Babolsar, Iran.

3 Faculty Member, Malek Ashtar University of Technology, Tehran, Iran.

4 Research Director, Center for Technology & Innovation intelligence for Mining Industries, Tehran, Iran.


This study aims to analyze the current technological status of the steel industry in Iran. It studies the factors affecting the failure of technological catch-up in the steel value chain and provides appropriate policy solutions for the development of this industry. To attain this aim, the paper chose the qualitative methodological strategy. The data were collected through semi-structured interviews with 21 experts in Iran’s steel industry and then, a qualitative content analysis method was applied to analyze the interviews. Then, the most important and effective factors were determined by mobilizing a focus group consisting of 5 Iranian steel experts. The findings show that the most important barriers to successful catching up, divided at three levels of national, sectoral, and enterprise analysis. The most important factors, according to the focus group, are weakness in research and development, international constraints, complex and time-consuming bureaucracies in receiving support, the weak constructive interaction between actors and finally, the dominance of some unauthorized institutions in the steel value chain.
Finally, the focus group recommended some policy solutions of which the most important ones include 1. To invest in the development of sustainable technologies with appropriate pricing on energy, 2. To supply, coordinate, and manage the resource to eliminate the monopoly of some suppliers and to improve the supply relationship and promotion of supplier-producer, 3. To establish intermediary institutions and the centers to train skilled workers with technological knowledge and injection into various sectors of industry, and 4. To use of Iranians educated abroad in related fields and specialties.


Main Subjects

Ahmadvand, E., Salami, S. R., Tabatabaein, S. H., & Bamdad Soofi, J. (2018). Windows of opportunity for catch up in nanofibers technology in Iran from a sectoral systems of innovation perspective [In Persian]. Innovation Management Journal, 7(3), 25, 1-28. http://www.nowavari.ir/article_87695.html
Almudi, I., Fatas-Villafranca, F., & Izquierdo, L. R. (2012). Innovation, catch-up, and leadership in science-based industries. Industrial and Corporate Change, 21(2), 345–375. https://doi.org/10.1093/icc/dtr041 
Altenburg, T., Schmitz, H., & Stamm, A. (2008). Breakthrough? Chinas and India’s transition from production to innovation. World development, 36(2), 325-344. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.worlddev.2007.06.011
Amsden, A. (1989). Asia’s next giant: South Korea and late industrialization. Oxford University Press. https://doi.org/10.1093/0195076036.001.0001
Attarpour, M., Kazazi, A., Elyasi, M., & Bamdad Soofi, J. (2018). A model for promoting technological learning for innovation ambidexterity development: A case study of Iran Steel Industry [In persian]. Journal of Improvement Management, 12(3), 45-69. http://www.behboodmodiriat.ir/article_81012.html
Chang, H. J. (1994). The political economy of industrial policy.  St. Martin Press. https://doi.org/10.1057/9780230379329 
Cooper, C. (1991). Are innovation studies on industrialized economies relevant to technology policy in developing countries? [UNU/INTECH Working Paper No. 3]. The United Nations University. https://archive.unu.edu/hq/library/Collection/PDF_files/INTECH/INTECHwp03.pdf
Ernst, D. (1998). Catching-up crisis and industrial upgrading: Evolutionary aspects of technological learning in Korea's electronics industry. Asia Pacific Journal of Management, 15(2), 247-283. https://doi.org/10.1023/A:1015493615652
Hansen, T., & Hansen, U. E. (2020). How many firms benefit from a window of opportunity? Knowledge spillovers, industry characteristics, and catching up in the Chinese biomass power plant industry. Industrial and Corporate Change29(5), 1211-1232. https://doi.org/10.1093/icc/dtaa008
Hobday, M. (1995). Innovation in East Asia: The challenge to Japan. Edward Elgar Publishing. https://doi.org/10.2307/2943369
Iranian Mines and Mining Industries Development and Renivation Organization [IMIDRO]. (2017). PERED, An Iranian technology in the Steel industry. http://chilanonline.com/wp-content/uploads/pered_chilan.pdf
Intarakumnerd, P., Chairatana, P. A., & Tangchitpiboon, T. (2002). National innovation system in less successful developing countries: The case of thailand. Research policy, 31(8-9), 1445-1457. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0048-7333(02)00074-4
Jin, B. (2019). Country-level technological disparities, market feedback, and scientists’ choice of technologies. Research Policy, 48(1), 385–400. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.respol.2018.09.007
Kang, H., & Song, J. (2017). Innovation and recurring shifts in industrial leadership: Three phases of change and persistence in the camera industry. Research Policy, 46(2), 376-387. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.respol.2016.09.004
Karakaya, E., Nuur, C., & Assbring, L. (2018). Potential transitions in the iron and steel industry in Sweden: Towards a hydrogen-based future? Journal of Cleaner Production, 195, 651-663. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jclepro.2018.05.142
Kenney, M., Breznitz, D. & Murphree, M. (2013). Coming back home after the sun rises: Returnee entrepreneurs and growth of high-tech industries. Research Policy, 42(2), 391–407. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.respol.2012.08.001.
Kushnir, D., Hansen, T., Vogl, V., & Ahman, M. (2020). Adopting hydrogen direct reduction for the Swedish steel industry: A technological innovation system (TIS) study. Journal of Cleaner Production, 242, 118-185. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jclepro.2019.118185
Kim, L. (1997). The dynamics of Samsung's technological learning in semiconductors. California Management Review, 39(3), 86-100. https://doi.org/10.2307/41165900
Lall, S. (1992). Technological capabilities and industrialization. World development, 20(2), 165-186. https://doi.org/10.1016/0305-750X(92)90097-F
Lee, K. (2005). Making a technological catch‐up: Barriers and opportunities. Asian Journal of Technology Innovation, 13(2), 97-131. https://doi.org/10.1080/19761597.2005.9668610
Lee, K. & Lim. C. (2001). Technological regimes, catching-up and leapfrogging: Findings from the Korean industries. Research policy, 30(3), 459-483. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0048-7333(00)00088-3
Lee, K., & Malerba, F. (2017). Catch-up cycles and changes in industrial leadership: Windows of opportunity and responses of firms and countries in the evolution of sectoral systems. Research Policy46(2), 338-351. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.respol.2016.09.006
Lundvall, B. A. (2016). The learning economy and the economics of hope. Anthem Press London. https://doi.org/10.26530/oapen_626406 
Majidpour, M. (2016). Technological catch-up in complex product systems. Journal of Engineering and Technology Management41, 92-105. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jengtecman.2016.07.003
Mengis, H. (2021). The role of individuals, incumbents, and failure in catch-up processes: A systematic literature review. Technology Analysis & Strategic Management33(1), 84-108. https://doi.org/10.1080/09537325.2020.1790515
Ministery of industry and trade. (2010). Turkish Industrial Strategy Ducument 2011-2014. Republic of Turkey. https://www.ab.gov.tr/files/haberler/2011/turkish_industrial_strategy.pdf
Park, K. H., & Lee, K. (2006). Linking the technological regime to the technological catch-up: Analyzing Korea and Taiwan using the US patent data. Industrial and Corporate Change, 15(4), 715-753. https://doi.org/10.1093/icc/dtl016
Rahmani, S., Alizadeh S., Mohsen, V., Khatir, M., & Majidpour, M.  (2019). Analysis of Iran steel industry technology gap with selected countries [In Persian]. Journal of Executive management, 11(22), 87-114. https://dx.doi.org/10.22080/jem.2020.17125.2986
Shan, J., & Jolly, D. (2011). Patterns of technological learning and catch-up strategies in latecomer firms: Case study in China’s telecom-equipment industry. Journal of Technology Management in China. 6(2), 153-170.  https://doi.org/10.1108/17468771111142964
Sharif, F., Shafia, M.A., Bonyadi Naeini, A. (2016). Investigating the factors affecting the success of technological catch-up process in Iran’s software industry with emphasis on the role of technological capability. 6th International Conference on New Research in Management, Economics and Accounting. https://scholar.conference.ac/index.php/download/file/task-sendlink/index.php?action=download&view=file&id=9647.
The Ministry of Steel. (2017). National Steel policy report. India. https://steel.gov.in/sites/default/files/draft-national-steel-policy-2017.pdf.
Wesseling, J. H., Lechtenbohmer, S., Ahman, M., Nilsson, L. J., Worrell, E., & Coenen, L. (2017). The transition of energy intensive processing industries towards deep decarbonization: Characteristics and implications for future research. Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, 79, 1303-1313. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.rser.2017.05.156
Westphal, L. E. (1999). Reflections on Korea's acquisition of technological capability. In L. Kim (Ed.), Learning and innovation in economic development (pp. 38-92). Edward Elgar. https://works.swarthmore.edu/fac-economics/322/
Xie, W. (2004). Technological learning in China’s colour TV (CTV) industry. Technovation, 24(6), 499-512. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0166-4972(02)00076-7
Volume 9, Issue 2
(Special issue for technological catch-up)
September 2021
Pages 163-196
  • Receive Date: 19 March 2021
  • Revise Date: 04 August 2021
  • Accept Date: 14 August 2021