Hiram Samel is an Associate Professor of International Business at the Said Business School and a Fellow of Lady Margaret Hall, University of Oxford. His research examines how entrepreneurial firms leverage national systems of innovation and production to build capabilities necessary to meet the shifting demands of global technology markets. He is particularly interested in how these strategies impact national policy goals of social and economic development. His current focus is on the clean energy, semiconductor, electronics, biopharma and advanced materials industries. Prior to receiving his PhD, he was an entrepreneur, building and managing mid-sized companies that operated in twenty countries. He is also an investor in and director at a variety of early-stage energy and medical device companies. He received an AB from Brown University, magna cum laude, and a PhD and SM in Management from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology where he was a Ford-MIT Energy Fellow and a Beyster Fellow.
Abstract: Upgrading has been a main policy focus of the development literature for the past two decades. The predominant model has firms with low capabilities moving up the value chain through learning in global production networks and support of robust local institutions. When upgrading efforts fail, the recommended solution is to pour in more resources. Yet little has changed. Using a critical case study of the Penang semiconductor cluster, this paper proposes an alternative set of hypotheses about upgrading in emerging economies. In this seminar we will argue that demand volatility increasingly determines the international division of labor in emerging economies, not the search for low wages.