IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

The democratisation of innovation: Managing technological innovation as if people matter


  • PH Spies

    () (Institute for Futures Research, University of Stellenbosch)


Innovation is the transformation of a new idea or scientific discovery into technology through introducing, applying, and integrating it in common practice. The outcome is that people can progressively do more with the same effort, produce different outcomes with the same artefacts and produce outcomes in new and novel ways. Historically this process favoured the (largely Western-style) industrial world and today some 85 percent of global wealth is owned by just 10 percent of the global population. Empoverished people seem to find themselves in a low level human development trap. The focus of this working paper is on innovation management in less-developed poor communities. Its central hypothesis is that endemic (human-centred) technological innovation rather than ‘technology transfer’ (artefact-centred innovation) can help to alleviate this situation. Two concepts from the natural sciences serve as metaphors for the intrinsic systemic and embodied nature of sustainable technological innovation: • ‘Ecosystem’ to highlight the determining role of interactivity with the circumstances under which people exist; and • ‘Endemic’ to highlight the importance of intrinsic innovativeness as both an outcome and a cause of human development. The paper postulates that the innovation challenge is perhaps less procedural and more conceptual, namely to discover the recursive link between technological innovation and human development. It approaches technological innovation as a holistic, human-centred, systemic process. It argues that effective application of technological artefacts is only possible with the support of a complex system of socio-economic conditions. An outline for conceptualising, planning and managing innovation for human development is presented in the concluding sections of the paper.

Suggested Citation

  • PH Spies, 2013. "The democratisation of innovation: Managing technological innovation as if people matter," Working Papers 09/2013, Stellenbosch University, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:sza:wpaper:wpapers185

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    File Function: First version, 2013
    Download Restriction: no

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. N.m. Theron & W.h. Boshoff, 2006. "Vertical Integration In South African Telecommunications: A Competition Analysis," South African Journal of Economics, Economic Society of South Africa, vol. 74(3), pages 575-592, September.
    2. Damien J. Neven, 2006. "Competition economics and antitrust in Europe," Economic Policy, CEPR;CES;MSH, vol. 21(48), pages 741-791, October.
    3. Blair, Roger D. & Kaserman, David L., 2009. "Antitrust Economics," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, edition 2, number 9780195135350.
    4. Willem h. Boshoff, 2007. "Stationarity Tests In Geographic Markets: An Application To South African Milk Markets," South African Journal of Economics, Economic Society of South Africa, vol. 75(1), pages 52-65, March.
    5. Oliver Budzinski, 2008. "Monoculture versus diversity in competition economics," Cambridge Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 32(2), pages 295-324, March.
    6. Johannes Fedderke & Dietmar Naumann, 2011. "An analysis of industry concentration in South African manufacturing, 1972-2001," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 43(22), pages 2919-2939.
    7. Hendry, David F., 1995. "Dynamic Econometrics," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780198283164.
    8. Stan du Plessis, 2007. "Two optimistic traditions in the dismal science: rationalism and the "invisible hand"," Working Papers 07/2007, Stellenbosch University, Department of Economics.
    9. Stan du Plessis & Nico Katzke & Evan Gilbert & Chris Hart, 2015. "Mark-ups and competition: a comparison of the profitability of listed South African industrial companies," Working Papers 02/2015, Stellenbosch University, Department of Economics.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item


    Innovation; human development; ecosystem; endemic; competence; motivation;

    JEL classification:

    • I3 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty
    • O3 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:sza:wpaper:wpapers185. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Melt van Schoor). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    We have no references for this item. You can help adding them by using this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.