Latecomer firm strategies in Complex Product Systems (CoPS): The case of Iran’s thermal electricity generation systems

M. Kiamehr, Michael Hobday, Mohsen Hamedi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper examines the strategies of a local supplier of high technology capital goods (or complex product systems, CoPS) in a middle-income developing economy, Iran, in its efforts to acquire technology and catch up with market leaders. The study draws upon both the development and business strategy literatures to develop a novel conceptual framework of latecomer strategy which is then applied to the Iranian firm engaged in the design, production and implementation of electricity generation systems. Although exploratory, the study shows that the firm was able to exploit its linkages with local clients, favourable government policies and a growing domestic demand to overcome barriers to entry and learn how to manufacture and design complex power generation systems. This paper contributes to the catch-up literature by highlighting the insights that a latecomer strategy perspective can provide into catch-up in CoPS noting, in particular, differences between strategies of catch-up in the Iranian case with those of Asian electronics and complex goods in Latin America, and the reasons behind an imbalanced progress in accumulation of production capabilities and technological change capabilities. The evidence shows the importance of marketing capabilities and strategy in CoPS in order for the transition to leadership to take place. Implications for policy and strategy are discussed and opportunities for further research are outlined.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1240-1251
Number of pages12
JournalResearch Policy
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 25 Feb 2015

Bibliographical note

© 2015 Elsevier B.V


  • Latecomer strategy
  • Catch up
  • Developing country
  • Complex product systems (CoPS)
  • Technological capability
  • Iran


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