Innovation policies for development: towards a systemic experimentation based approach
Joseph, K. J.
MetadataShow full item record
This paper sheds light on how to address, conceptualize and design innovation policies taking into account the specific characteristics of innovation systems in developing countries. The main purpose is to reflect on the policy implications of adopting the innovation system perspective to the particularities of developing countries. It is only recently that the concept of innovation has entered the development discourse and subsequently the agenda of policy-makers in developing countries and international aid organizations (UNCTAD 2007, UNIDO 2007, Farley et al. 2007). Implementing innovation policies in developing countries has proved to be a challenging task. Academics, development practitioners and policy-makers are still struggling with understanding how to conceptualize innovation in developing countries, identifying who are the beneficiaries of innovation processes and more generally conceptualizing innovation system policies in the South (Lundvall et al, 2006; Borras et al, 2008; Intarakumnerd and Chaminade, 2007). Furthermore, in designing innovation policies, policy makers often lack tools for identifying problems in the system and for selecting policies supporting innovation and competence building to tackle them. Innovation systems in developing countries are very heterogeneous. Each system is embedded in a unique socio-economic institutional context and, in this sense, it is not possible to identify innovation policies that could be applied to all developing countries. Neither is this the purpose of this paper. However, the growing literature of innovation systems in developing countries suggests that innovation systems in developing countries differ from the mature innovation systems that we might find in the developed economies. Substantial differences in components and relationships indicate that just imitating innovation policies practiced in developed countries is unlikely to deliver the expected results. The purpose of this paper is to point out to the main differences between (most) innovation systems in developing countries and (most) innovation systems in developed countries and discuss the implications that these differences have for the identification of problems and opportunities. There are different analytical frameworks for the identification of these problems. As opposed to the market-failure model proposed by the neoclassical analysis (Arrow, 1962) scholars in the system of innovation approach, propose to focus on systemic failures (Smith, 2000, Woolthuis et al, 2005, Chaminade and Edquist, 2006). In this paper we investigate how far this framework is useful for designing innovation policies in developing countries. The reminder of this paper is structured as follows: First, we explain why innovation policy is relevant in developing countries. Then, we introduce what is meant by systemic problems, and apply the concept to developing countries. One of our main conclusions is the need to combine the concept of systemic failures with a pragmatic experimental approach. The main features of such experimental approach are presented in the last section of the paper.