In the 1990s, diminutive Costa Rica attracted a large research and manufacturing investment from the high-tech giant Intel. Ciravegna asks whether since then, the Central American country has developed its own domestic information technology cluster. His answer: yes and no. Costa Rica now boasts about 200 local information technology firms, and some 40 multinational corporations have established a presence there. But most of the local firms provide low-tech services, and many of the multinational technology companies have set up only back-office services and call centers rather than production facilities or research labs. Ciravegna argues that unlike the successful high-tech sectors that exist in India, Israel, and Taiwan, the high-tech sector in Costa Rica has few links to the kinds of diaspora communities and social networks that could bind it to flagship multinationals based in the United States. He offers various practical approaches to establishing the necessary transnational ties and innovation networks, such as assisting Costa Ricans to study abroad, offering more postgraduate programs for foreign students in engineering and computer science, and capitalizing on the nation’s tourism destinations to attract international technology fairs.
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