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  • Series: Eu-SPRI Forum on Science, Technology and Innovation Policy series x
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Pierre Delvenne and François Thoreau

In this chapter, the authors engage with the widespread and influential approach of national innovation systems (NISs). They discuss its adequacy to non-OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) countries, especially in Latin America, where it is abundantly implemented and tends to be reified, which leads to a situation where relevant contextual elements tend to be ignored. Although the NISs approach is meant to address the most pressing needs of the economies it applies to, namely solving poverty, reducing social inequalities, increasing productivity and creating jobs, the authors argue that it would benefit from developing a more encompassing scope, allowing integration of greater diversity and complexity. By retracing the history of regimes of science, technology and innovation (STI) in Latin America, the authors explore the problems faced by actors willing to use NISs more reflexively. They hereby discuss the effectiveness of STI policies in non-OECD countries. Finally, they formulate a research agenda with three suggestions for further engaging NISs both conceptually and practically. Using such analytical perspectives, they argue, might benefit scholarly work about NISs and could also allow for a better articulation with STI regimes in Southern countries.

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Gillian M. Marcelle

Science, technology and innovation (STI) policy in the global South is underperforming partly because the starting point of policymaking is often not as relevant to context as it ought to be. To correct this policymakers should draw more from their lived reality and ask deeper questions rather than accepting the status quo. STI policy in many developing countries has paid insufficient attention to the perspectives of innovation performers and that policy is either silent or deeply flawed. This chapter provides a Kuhnian explanation as to why there has been limited progress by suggesting that innovation studies is experiencing a period of intellectual lock-in characterized by the dominant tradition crowding out other voices, explanations and traditions rather than accepting richness and diversity. Micro-foundation explanations, particularly a focus on learning and capability building, and user perspectives on innovation do not receive as much attention as systems perspectives. In addition, there is a near invisibility of Southern voices in the conceptual agenda and the specifics some developing country regions such as Africa and small island nations are ignored even by so-called development institutions, with the result that, even when innovation studies is operationalized in development programming, it is framed as though the conceptual underpinnings have emanated from the global North. Many interventions and transformations are needed to improve the performance of STI policy in the global South.

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Britta Rennkamp

The idea of the innovation policy dance suggests that innovation theory, policy and practice correspond to each other. This chapter analyses these three elements of innovation studies in two highly unequal societies: Brazil and South Africa. The question is how innovation theory, policy and practice account for the steep income inequalities in developing countries. How do innovation policies address both high- and low-income demands? The analysis finds that theories, policies and practices still don’t fully account for the characteristics in highly unequal developing nations. Theories and policies continue to derive from experiences in the industrialized nations. The analysis of Brazilian and South African innovation policy shows that the discourse and practice on social and pro-poor innovation are still rudimentary and not prioritized. The Brazilian government passed specific innovation legislation and runs skills development programmes to boost innovation. The South African programmes show very little focus on social innovation. Both governments adopted legislator and institutional design from Europe as opposed to designing their innovation policies according to the local practitioners’ needs. In these instances the innovation policy dance is out of sync.

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Mario Scerri

This chapter applies a novel ‘modes of innovation’ approach to the understanding of the evolution of two national systems of innovation in Africa. The basic theoretical foundation of this concept lies in a theory of value formulated in terms of streams of innovation, where the definition of innovation is drawn from a broad national system of innovation perspective. The chapter offers a classification system which helps to locate specific national systems of innovation within the global system of innovation according to a number of linked criteria. In the case of Africa the categorization of modes of innovation is specifically linked to the colonial and post-colonial phases. One of the parameters which differentiate the different modes is the nature of the engagement of African national systems of innovation with the global political economy. The chapter first develops the theoretical base of the modes of innovation concept. It then applies a classification system developed from this concept to a general case of African NSIs. It goes on to develop the analysis for South Africa and Tanzania as a historical account of two relative outliers within the generalized context of Africa’s post-colonial history. The concluding section looks at the policy implications of this approach.

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Abdelkader Djeflat

In many developing countries, innovation dynamics is confronted with a very specific environment characterized by the rise of very small enterprises and small and medium-scale enterprises (SMEs) with little experience in the fields of R & D, relatively weak industrial performance in terms of productivity, and high levels of obsolescence in terms of both human resources and equipment. This is partly the result of a long-lasting deindustrialization phenomenon. While the approach in terms of national systems of innovation (NSIs) attracts a great deal of attention from policymakers and researchers, several attempts to trigger innovation through this approach have failed, mostly as a result of a poor understanding of how innovation systems emerge in non-catch-up countries. The emerging innovation systems (EIS) approach proposed in this chapter rests on the premise that innovation takes off in a variety of ways, needing both strong policy impulses from government and adequate market dynamics. The chapter addresses the fundamental question of how innovation emergence takes place in late-industrializing countries such as the North African countries, in terms of both policies and conceptual framework, and draws heavily from the Algerian experience.

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Cristina Chaminade and Ramón Padilla-Pérez

This chapter aims at discussing the main challenges of designing and implementing science, technology and innovation (STI) policies in developing countries. In particular, it addresses the problems of: a) aligning STI policies with the national economic development agenda, as well as coordinating STI policies among different ministries and other public organizations, and among diverse government levels (horizontal alignment); and b) aligning rationales, objectives, instruments and specific problems of the system (vertical alignment). In addition, the main barriers for designing and implementing STI policies are examined. The chapter combines theory and concepts with examples of STI policy design and implementation in Asian and Latin American countries to illustrate the arguments. The analysis of STI policies as innovation system policies suggests that developing countries need policies that are comprehensive, evidence based, long-term and aligned.

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Gabriela Dutrénit and Martín Puchet

The analytical framework used for science, technology and innovation (STI) public policy design worldwide is largely based on a systemic/evolutionary approach and, empirically, it is based on countries with specific initial conditions – the central economies and some successful Asian economies. These countries have specific trajectories of institutional building, political culture and STI capabilities, which shape their national innovation systems (NIS). A central issue in understanding the trajectories and the chances of success or failure of policies emanating from these models, and variants that aim to adapt to developing economies, is to analytically conceive the role of the institutional framework, the rules of the game in operation in the system, the governance at national, sectoral and regional levels, and some aspects of the political economy in the recipients’ countries. These affect the STI practice and policy, contribute to feeding tensions that militate against the building of a sustainable NIS, and are country specific. The aim of this chapter is to discuss the experience of STI policy making in Mexico, considering the international model and the interaction between the trajectory of institutional building, the process of construction of both the government and the governance of the NSI, and the political economy. This chapter argues that a set of rules and actions are formed and built from the STI practice; they allow or block actions in governance processes. The data used to inform our arguments are based on the STI laws and regulations, transcripts of board meetings and interviews with key agents of the NSI.

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Mónica Salazar

Since 2009, there have been several profound transformations of the Colombian National System of Science, Technology and Innovation, such as a new law for science, technology and innovation (STI) and a new STI fund, whose resources come from royalties from the exploitation of non-renewable natural resources. These changes present opportunities, challenges and threats to Colciencias, the Colombian government agency in charge of research and innovation funding and promotion. Certainly, the 10 per cent of royalties for STI activities and the creation of iNNpulsa – a new government agency promoting innovation and entrepreneurship – can be seen as both opportunities and threats. The royalties certainly are a major driver of change, since they have come with new rules and funding mechanisms, and these resources are much greater than Colciencias’s budget. Many questions arise: Will the governance of Colciencias and the system be affected? How? Will Colciencias be able to learn from the past, or will it fail to adapt to new circumstances? This chapter tries to answer these questions after presenting the governance practices developed by Colciencias over its 45 years of existence.

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Allison Loconto and Emmanuel Simbua

The foundation of recent science, technology and innovation (STI) policy in Tanzania lay in providing the ‘proper’ conditions for encouraging investment in agriculture. The authors argue that imagining activities in tea research as ‘tinkering’ helps to explain the learning processes and gaps in STI policy. Detailing how the tea industry tinkers with investment in the sector in a process of learning by using, how international networks influence formal learning, and how learning by interacting produces incremental innovations in practice demonstrates this point. Drawing on Kuhlmann et al.’s (2010) three dances, the authors show that there is a dominance of theory, but not a dominance of theoretically driven results. Rather, the actors are tinkering with the opportunities at their disposal to create spaces for progress on policy indicators that do not always align with the theory that drives them. As a result, the authors see a government failure where the practices of technology adoption and innovation are not taken up in systematic ways. However, they argue that it is more appropriate to speak of tensions, rather than failures, as the situation also provides opportunities. By drawing upon insights from the notion of tinkering, the authors contribute to the critiques of STI policy that are raised within Tanzania.