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The transnational ties that tech entrepreneurs forge are key aspects of global technology production, yet not much is documented and therefore understood of the substantive nature of such collaborations outside of large firms. Based on our prior individual work in Ghana and China respectively, my collaborator and I received an NSF grant to examine what motivates and brings together specific actors shaping transnational networks of technology design and innovation across Ghana, the south of China, and Silicon Valley. 


The broader goal of this ethnographic study is to understand how circulating concepts in tech entrepreneurship and innovation like start-up culture, design thinking, and Internet of Things shape both local strategies and transnational relations of technology production. The study is situated among two groups of innovators: 1) transnational tech entrepreneurs making software and hardware products who are often found in start-ups, incubators, and tech hubs, and 2) hardware sellers and manufacturing entrepreneurs who assemble, distribute and repair electronic devices across factories, repair shops, and electronic markets. While each of these work in particular networks, they are increasingly coming together as hardware prototyping becomes more affordable and software development readily available. The principal questions guiding this study are: Who is at the forefront of molding these emergent relations? What are the daily practices in the design and implementation of new technologies between these regions, and what are the social, cultural and economic processes that shape them?


[1] NSF Award #1617898: Innovation and Technology Entrepreneurship Cultures between Ghana, South China, and Silicon Valley (with Silvia Lindtner, University of Michigan). 


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