The Assessment of Technological learning and Technological capabilities in Nigerian Film Industry



Background to the Problem

Nollywood is one of the fastest growing sectors of the Nigerian economy and reputed to be the third largest film industry in the world (Ekeanyanwu, 2008; Esan, 2008; Uba, 2007; Okoroji, 2006; Onishi, 2002). The largest is United States’ Hollywood and the second is India’s Bollywood. Nollywood achieved this feat in less than 20 years of its existence by virtue of the volume of production and release of films which was highly influenced by audience approval and patronage, cheap production facilities and resources available to a typical movie producer in the Nigerian environment, shorter time frame required to shoot and produce a movie and the application of  technology  amongst other factors. The industry is also progressively making in-roads into the global market.  Nollywood productions are now regular features on Multichoice subscribed stations, BEN TV, HiTV, Sky Channels etc. According to Esan (2008:8), “Since January 2008, Nollywood has a dedicated channel offering 24-hour movies service on Sky digital platform to audiences in the UK and Ireland. There are also a range of websites which support the circulation of Nollywood movies”.


However, In developing firm technological capability, learning is a process where firms create as well  as  accumulate  knowledge, information,  experiences and  competencies  (Karaoz &  Albeni, 2005).   Technological learning process is a cumulative process where it  uses the existing knowledge base attained from documents, organizational routines to improve and make better  in performing technology related tasks (Kim, 2001; Karaoz & Albeni, 2005). Learning in firm is a major source of incremental and technical change and is known as learning organization.  Through learning, firms accumulate knowledge and later on convert, the knowledge into higher value added technical capability (Lundvall, 2002). The ability to learn enables organization to attain certain technical level and knowledge base, which will be  different even  among  firms  of same  industries.  The distinction  on learning  capability between developed and developing countries is obvious as explained by the two mainstreams of technological learning studies; the learning capacities in latecomer and the technological frontier. Firms  that use  technology are identified  as latecomers and those that  develop the technology are labeled as technology frontiers. The latecomers are mainly from developing countries  as  compared  to  those  who  instead  of  using  technology  they  developed  the technology  or  the  technological  frontiers,  which  belong  to  advanced  nation  (Figueiredo, 2002).

Compared  to  the  technological  frontiers,  the  process  of  capability  building  in latecomers are much more difficult (Rousseva, 2008).  However,  it  is  not  possible  for  the  latecomer to  catch  up with  the technology  frontiers. Kim(1997) highlighted the importance of technological learning at firm level in Korea since technological learning was one of the important factors for firms in developing countries to catch  up  with the  advanced  countries  and  finally  to  enable them  to  attain  technological frontier status. Many researchers also agree with the outcome of latecomers learning effort, which enabling them to possess the basic operating and manufacturing capability (Bell, 1984; Lall.  1992;  Kim,  1997,  Figueiredo,  2001).  This  outcome  differs  from  the  technological frontier group as their learning processes are more in developing innovation capability.   The result from latecomers learning effort is aligned with the path of TC acquisition by firms in developing countries  which start with attainment of production  capabilities and at later stage building  capabilities in investment and  innovation (Hobday, 1993;  Radosevic, 1999) nevertheless, this  situation does  not promote the latecomers  except Singapore, Korea, and Taiwan (Kim, 2001).

The outcomes from the learning process resulting in the attainment of production base or operational capability as compared to higher value added capability such as  innovation  (Jegathesan,  1997;  Ismail,  1999).  This  was  confirmed  by  a  study conducted  by Hobday  and Rush  (2007) that  signified TNC  subsidiaries in  Malaysia and Thailand only acquired  manufacturing process  skills with  limited R&D  and New product development capabilities. The finding indicates the importance of technological learning in enhancing upstream  capability such as  innovation where sources of  learning ranging from formal  R&D  to  as  simple  as  tacit  experiences  from  the  job  in  determining  successful innovation (Chipika & Wilson, 2006).   The significance of technological learning on development of firm technological capability cannot be denied.  Learning  has improved  capabilities of firm in  utilizing the  technology. Technological capabilities are defined as the skills, technical, managerial or organizational, which,  are  needed  to  allow  firms  to  utilize  the  hardware  (equipment)  and  software (information) technology efficiently. Such capabilities are necessarily firm specific, which is institutional  knowledge  composed  of  individual skills  and  experiences  accumulated  over time. Capabilities  in this sense are not linearly added but containing  a synergistic element which arises from interaction between individuals (Lall,1992).  It involves local learning to complete  the transaction  and  requires  the  technology recipient  to  invest  in  his ability  to absorb the new knowledge (Pack & Westphal, 1986). Embodied elements of technology need to be accompanied by a number of tacit elements, which requires further investment to gather the technological knowledge and develop skills as well as institutional routines.   Technological capabilities are skills possessed by firms to enable them to utilize efficiently the  hardware  and  software  of  the  technology  and  to  attain  any  technological  change processes. They are firm specific knowledge that was made of skills and experiences of the organization‟s  members  that  are  accomplished  over  the  time  (Morrison,  Peitrobelli  & Rabelloti, 2008). Technology capability,  therefore, cannot be described solely on  physical equipment,  blueprints  or  patent  purchased  or  even  formal  skills although  these form  the receptive base for the acquisition of capabilities. However, capability development means the ability of firm to combines the physical equipment, blueprints or design as an organization. The development of certain level of capabilities is crucial for firm to master the technology. Mastering technology means the ability of firm to use the technology at par or near world best practice level (Lall, 1992).

This paper therefore chronicles the The Assessment of Technological learning and Technological capabilities in Nigerian Film Industry. Part of the reason put forward to justify the phenomenal rise of Nollywood is associated with new communication technologies. This is highlighted in this paper. Furthermore, the global ratings of Nollywood cannot be discussed in isolation of globalization. Globalization in this regard could be seen through the eyes of McLuhan’s (1964) slippery concept of ‘global village’. The concept of a global village sees the entire globe as a community where natural barriers to global cooperation and interdependency relationships that existed before now are wiped out or reduced by the advances in new communication technologies. With this understanding, one begins to appreciate why Nollywood have audiences beyond Nigeria and Africa.

Statement of the Problem

Research Questions

  1. What kind \types of technologies exist in the Nigerian film industry?
  2. How many of these technologies have been adopted by producers in the industry?
  3. What are the technology patterns used or deployed by the industry?
  4. What is the level of technological capabilities within the industry?
  5. What is the impact of technological learning and Technological capabilities on the performance of the film?

(* Examples are as follows:

  1. Profit (ROI)
  2. Viewer’s acceptability

iii. Movie awards

  1. Awards nominations)

 *Research Objectives:* 

  1. To identify the types of technology available in the industry.
  2. To assess the type of technology that has been adopted by producers in the industry.
  3. To identify the technological learning patterns adopted in the industry.
  4. To examine the level of technological capabilities in the film industry.
  5. To examine the impact of technological learning and Technological capabilities on the performance of the film industry.
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