The Duality of Innovation: Liberation and Economic Competitiveness
Bobb, Kamau Imara
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Economic competitiveness and liberation are treated as dual objectives of innovation in traditional industries in developing countries that have endured both slavery and colonization. In developing nations that slave and colonial histories, the objective of innovation may be more than the assumed one, economic competitiveness; it may be liberation as well. The objective of innovation may be to wrest domestic control over national resources from international agencies and multinational corporations. This dissertation explores this idea with case studies of the sugar industry in Barbados and Guyana. Evidence from semi-structured interviews in both locations is used to determine whether liberation is indeed an objective of the innovation process and if so, whether it is complementary or contradictory to the standard relationship between innovation and economic competitiveness. The results suggest that the concept of liberation is not only present in large philosophical discussions of national strategy, but also in the practical "bench-level" discussions about technical options for the Caribbean sugar regime. The connection of sugar to the slave and colonial past introduces notions of powerlessness and resentment into innovation discussions that customarily revolve exclusively around research agendas, technological options and their economic costs and benefits. Consideration of this dimension is a necessary addition to the National Innovation Systems framework when it is being applied to the developing world.