Innovation and innovation system studies have traditionally not dealt with natural resource industries in developing countries. This seems to be the case even when considering strategic sectors such as the petroleum industry, where oil-rich countries are typically struggling to transform their hydrocarbons into sustained economic growth and development.
This thesis seeks to address the void in the literature. By combining the sectoral systems of innovation approach with bargaining power and value chain theory, the thesis sets out to explore the small-scale and onshore-based petroleum industry of Cuba.A central argument throughout the thesis is that for Cuba to further develop its petroleum industry, it would be well-advised to formulate a policy aimed at facilitating the transfer of technology and knowledge held by foreign oil companies. In parallel it is acknowledged that such transfers are difficult to facilitate, depending among others on the bargaining power of Cuba to access the technology and knowledge, and on the ability of Cuban actors to assimilate and exploit the transfers.
Based on a collection of various documents, archival records, and interviews, it is found that the processes of inward transfers of technology and knowledge in the Cuban petroleum industry are limited to whatever agreements Cuba manages to strike with foreign oil companies directly investing in its sector. Through joint ventures and other agreements, however, domestic industry actors have managed to expand on their knowledge and technological base. This feat can be attributed to the ability of the Cuban educational system to supply the industry with manpower capable of absorbing the transfers.
On the background of this study it is argued that oil-rich developing countries should take a firm look into its petroleum technology policy, and outline goals and measures to facilitate the successful transfer of knowledge and technology from foreign oil companies operating on their soil. This would be crucial not just for the development of capabilities among domestic industry actors, but also to ensure that a proportionate share of the economic rent accrues to the country in question.