Systems of Innovation and Underdevelopment: An Institutional Perspective
This paper examines institutions and their role in supporting technical change as part of the development process, and asks how institutions shape the system of innovation (SI). The context of underdevelopment exhibits distinct system characteristics that differ markedly from those found under advanced economic conditions and as such deserves close empirical scrutiny. SIs differ significantly under the two sets of conditions, leading to uneven structural changes. The paper therefore explores what functions must be served by systems in developing countries in order to generate technical dynamism. To compare different contexts, it introduces the idea of a System of Learning Innovation in Development (SLID) that emphasizes individual and organizational competence building. The differences between “Advanced” Systems of Innovation (ASI) and two types of SLID are discussed. Infrastructure, one of the key components of institutions involved in development, is used as an illustration. The study found that dynamic SIs function best in a regime of high-quality infrastructure (telephone, Internet, computers and reliable electricity supplies). The case of sub-Saharan Africa serves to illustrate the point.
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