To what extent are international business connections useful to facilitate technological upgrading, and to what extent are they essential? And what types of international business connections are most appropriate in supporting firms' capacity development? The most successful examples of upgrading in the recent era, the Asian Tigers, were all outward-looking in their orientation, although the specific development strategies of the economic regions differed. Although some type of international business connection was important for all of them, they all invested in local capacity building. This article investigates the co-evolution of firm capacity and international linkages by looking at the South African chemicals firm Sasol.