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Knowledge and Development



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Like democracy, development is an essentially contested concept, with too much tied
up in its meaning to allow it ever to settle into one form. The word invokes process
and direction, and invites the question: development toward what? For a peasant in
India, development may mean steady food, the assurance of staying on the land, and
fewer children dying young. For a World Bank official, the peasant’s dream would
appear in statistics on poverty alleviation and reduction in child mortality. To an
industrialist, development may mean business survival and personal wealth; to an
economist, growth in gross domestic product; and to a politician, jobs, popularity, and
Amartya Sen (2000) defines development as freedom. Freedom is central to the
process of development, he argues, both because “achievement of development is
thoroughly dependent on the free agency of people” (freedom as means) and because
it provides a yardstick for measuring progress (freedom as end). Development as
freedom means human beings gaining the capability to achieve their own goals in
their own contexts.
The substantive freedoms include elementary capabilities like being able to avoid such depriva-
tions as starvation, undernourishment, escapable morbidity, and premature mortality, as well as
the freedoms that are associated with being literate and numerate, enjoying political participa-
tion and uncensored speech, and so on (Sen, 2000: 3).
For freedom in this sense, the fundamental difference between the global North
the global South is that many more people in the South are poor. Nearly a third of
the population of developing countries lives in absolute poverty on less than $1 per
day (Chen & Ravallion, 2004). Life spans in the poorest nations are half those in afflu-
ent ones, and developing countries bear the main burden of such major diseases
as AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria (Task Force on HIV/AIDS, 2004). Environmental
conditions contribute to poor health, for example, through lack of clean water and
adequate sanitation, and poverty contributes to environmental degradation as the
rural poor strain natural resources such as forests and land in an attempt to eke out
a living (Vosti & Reardon, 1997). Part of the literature on science, technology, and
development focuses on ways research and innovation can contribute to the solutions
31 Knowledge and Development
Susan E. Cozzens, Sonia Gatchair, Kyung-Sup Kim, Gonzalo Ordóñez, and
Anupit Supnithadnaporn
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to these problems of everyday life, an approach we can call the human development
Another part of the development discussion focuses on providing the resources to
address the human development challenge through economic growth. National
mastery of new technologies, and in particular information technology, is often seen
as the key. In this view, the flow of information on a global basis is the lifeblood of
the new economy. The worst economic fate is not to be at the periphery of the global
network, but to be irrelevant to it, in what Castells (1996) calls the “black holes of the
Information Economy.” The knowledge industries—in those emerging areas that hold
a temporary monopoly position by being at the cutting edge—are portrayed as the
main sources of wealth today and in the future. In this view, whole geographic regions
(e.g., Europe versus North America) vie to win the competition in the churn and
change of the contemporary industrial scene. Indeed, contemporary theories of eco-
nomic growth place technological innovation right in the heart of the growth process.
The strong role of technology in maintaining markets for national industries, both
domestically and internationally, is thus often seen as a second main challenge in
using science and technology for development, the competitiveness project.
Immersed in the second project, many observers find it easy to lose sight of the first;
yet making lives better is the essence of development as freedom. Whether poor, com-
fortable, or wealthy, most citizens of the global South do not think about “science”
or “technology” in the abstract, although they use or buy electricity, water, medicine,
televisions, and mobile phones that are part of what STS would call sociotechnical
systems. Living technology rather than analyzing it, most people in the South ask pri-
marily how it helps them, their families, their regions, and their countries.
What do the published literatures on science and technology for development have
to offer to actors in the global South who are seeking to use science or technology to
achieve development as freedom? This chapter does not present a comprehensive
view—the literature is too vast for that, even when we focus our attention on what
has been published since the last edition of this Handbook (Shrum & Shenhav, 1994).
But we at least try to raise research questions grounded in the concepts alive today at
the intersection of science and technology studies, economic growth theory, and
innovation systems research.
The first section of the chapter introduces these three perspectives. The second
section applies them to interpret examples of practical development problems: edu-
cation, innovation policies, and learning firms. The final section outlines some key
questions for an actor-centered, knowledge–pluralistic research agenda on science and
technology in the development process.
Science and Technology Studies
Over the decade since the last edition of this Handbook, the social sciences have been
flooded with analysis of processes of change in the world system, often under the
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rubric of globalization (Worthington, 1993). Globalization has many meanings, but
the predominant approach defines it as the distribution of productive processes across
countries on a global scale, a process that is transforming livelihoods in some devel-
oping countries while leaving others untouched. Comparisons abound between the
current wave of globalization and earlier ones, including the epic migrations of the
turn of the century. In this wave, it is capital, not labor, which is moving. For the first
time in world history, there is mutual trade in manufactured goods between the core
and the up and coming semiperiphery (Ghose, 2003).
Two changes identified as technological are often portrayed as the drivers of the
current dynamic: the falling cost of transportation and the rising capability of com-
puter-mediated communication (Ghose, 2003). Some observers attribute fundamental
importance to the spread of communication networks (Castells, 1996). Sociologists
have examined patterns of urbanization in this newly connected world (Sassen, 2002),
and political scientists, while not abandoning the study of change in national gover-
nance patterns, have begun to analyze such emerging institutions of global gover-
nance as the World Trade Organization and the new set of rules it is negotiating in
the global knowledge economy.
The STS literature includes stories that take place in the global South but does not
try to add them up into an account of changing macro structures in the world
economy or a coherent theory of development. Instead, the stories highlight particu-
lar actors and the forms of knowledge they bring into particular interactions, shed-
ding light on the dynamics that create new patterns. The STS literature is not
monolithic in approach: methods range from standard survey research (Campion &
Shrum, 2004) to network studies (Shrum, 2000) to discourse analysis (Hecht, 2002),
but the dominant approach is narrative. Yet there are some themes that appear across
the various writings that may constitute an STS approach to the topic.
Most often, the actors portrayed in the STS stories belong to the global scientific
community. So, for example, we find studies of women scientists (Campion & Shrum,
2004; Gupta & Sharma, 2002) and universities (Sutz, 2003) in the South. Sometimes
the stories confirm conventional trajectories. For example, Velho and Pessoa (1998)
describe Brazil’s ambitions in international research, leading to the decision to invest
in a synchrotron light source. Lomnitz and Cházaro (1999) lament the lack of under-
standing of the roles of computer scientists in the basic research-oriented reward
system of Mexican universities. Others describe new configurations, like Shrum’s
account (2000) of nongovernmental agricultural research organizations.
The relationships between scholars in the North and South receive attention in the
STS literature, for example, in Solovey’s work (2001) on Project Camelot. Some arti-
cles reflexively consider the knowledge status of scholars from the North in their
observer roles in the South, or as Shrum (2005) puts it, “reagent” roles (see also Verran,
2001). Similarly, in their “love” for the Zimbabwean bush pump, de Laet and Mol
(2000) explore “new ways of ‘doing’ normativity.”
The juxtaposition and conflict between different forms of knowledge is the most
common theme in STS stories set in the global South. For example, Lei (1999) describes
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the exclusion of Chinese traditional medicine from emerging networks of “Western-
style” doctors in China in the 1920s and 1930s. Postcolonial science carries the echoes
of previous power relationships into the present (e.g., Adams, 2002; see also Dubow,
2000). Traditional and local are not always overcome by “modern” and Northern,
however. In Verran’s (2002) account, environmental scientists eventually come to
respect aboriginal regimes of burning in the Australian bush. And farmers, engineers,
and social activists jointly design the Baliraja Memorial Dam in India (Phadke, 2002).
Given these themes, the STS literature implicitly portrays globalization as a process
of knowledge confrontations. “Professional” or “scientific” knowledge carries the priv-
ilege of the North into the definitions that shape life in the South. It tangles with
other ways of framing and addressing issues, particularly those rooted in the knowl-
edge of poor or indigenous people. By treating the various forms of knowledge sym-
metrically, the STS approach draws attention to the asymmetries in power that
privilege one form of knowledge over another. STS stories include a broad set of actors,
especially highlighting civil society and marginalized groups, and features their cate-
gories and knowledge. The STS literature thus highlights certain questions with regard
to development projects: Whose project is it? What knowledge do the various actors
bring to the interaction? Whose knowledge gets respect and deference? What are the
outcomes of the project for the everyday lives of the people involved?
In the background of the STS stories are the practical problems of development as
freedom, for example, AIDS (Karnik, 2001), rural energy (Gorman & Mehalik, 2002),
fertility (Oudshoorn, 1997), and Chagas disease (Coutinho, 1999). The STS contribu-
tion to development is the freedom to envision both problems and solutions in local
ways, without the imposition of the categories used in the sciences or technologies of
the North.
New Growth Theory
Economics provides another strand of thinking about science and technology in the
global South. Unlike STS, where Southern stories are not set apart, economics has a
subfield for “development” and a branch of theory, growth theory, that gives a par-
ticular account of the process. In that account, nations are the central actors, with
governments (usually called “the State”) playing the central role. Like STS scholars,
the economists themselves also play roles, since they provide analysis and advice to
both national governments and the international banks, but they pay less attention
to their own roles and seldom subject them to scrutiny in their work, except in auto-
biographical mode [e.g., Stiglitz’s Globalization and Its Discontents (2002) on his expe-
riences at the World Bank and Sachs’s End of Poverty (2005)].
Growth theory traces its roots back to Adam Smith and his analysis of the role of
division of labor in expanding economic activity, and to Karl Marx, who saw capital-
ists and production technology (“the means of production”) as the driving forces of
change in the economy. Classical growth theory attributes economic expansion to the
accumulation of land, labor, and capital. Examining this claim in light of emerging
data, scholars in the 1950s noted that the combination of these three did not explain
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all the variance in growth, and Solow added the hypothesis that the rest of the vari-
ation (the “residual”) was due to technological change. Neoclassical growth theory, as
this hypothesis came to be called, did not delve into the sources of technological
change, but rather treated its result as a public good that was available to all nations
and businesses alike (Solow 1956, 1957). Technology was “exogenous” in this theory.
The creative capitalist had disappeared, replaced by a faceless process of technologi-
cal change. Neoclassical growth theory was compatible with traditional moderniza-
tion theories; countries that were “behind” could “catch up,” since technology
acquisition costs much less than technology development.
The most influential family of contemporary growth theories changes this picture
by treating technology as endogenous, that is, as the result of deliberate economic
choice, on the part of either private firms or the State (Romer, 1990). Those who invest
in developing new technology earn economic rewards, because they hold a tempo-
rary monopoly over the means of doing something new and more productive. Eco-
nomic growth results from the increasing returns associated with new knowledge. As
a result, while returns diminish in the physical economy, they increase in the newly
named knowledge economy (Cortright, 2001).
This new growth theory observes that knowledge-based economies tend toward
monopolistic competition (Cortright, 2001). Because knowledge has increasing returns
(continuously declining marginal costs), leading firms tend to build up insurmount-
able advantages and new entrants face the difficult prospect of starting out with much
higher costs than their established competitors. History matters: once a technology is
locked in, it is harder for competitors to replace it. Institutions matter: dynamic orga-
nization adjustment to changing circumstances is required for continuing progress.
Place matters: local institutions and cultures shape knowledge flows, and tacit knowl-
edge is important.
All these factors suggest that once a country or region has a significant knowledge
advantage, it will be difficult for another country or region to catch up. A country
that has almost no technical base now might easily conclude that it will never get
into the game. New growth theory’s primary recommendation for such a country is
to increase human capital, that is, increase its total knowledge and creativity through
education. Another endogenous approach to growth, evolutionary economics (Nelson
& Winter 1982), calls attention to still other opportunities inherent in the knowledge
economy. The creative destruction of the market, that is, the continual appearance of
new industries that supersede previous ones, opens up possibilities for countries to
concentrate their resources in specific areas and leapfrog over competitors in old indus-
tries, finding places for themselves in new ones (Schumpeter, 1942). Technological
change is at the root of this process, and it is thus worthwhile for countries to invest
in the capabilities necessary to ride the next wave when it comes. Some of the most
prominent examples of technology-based growth success have followed this path,
including the Asian “tigers” such as Korea, Taiwan, and Singapore.
The actors in these accounts of science and technology in development are quite
distinct from those in the STS literature on the same topic. Private firms ultimately
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produce the growth, but the theorists provide advice primarily to governments, urging
them to create the conditions for firms to act. Knowledge is again an object of con-
flict, but this time it is the new knowledge embodied in innovations that forms the
basis of competition, with various institutions contending over the ground rules for
ownership and profits. Development is not freedom in Sen’s sense for these theorists.
Industrial growth can coexist with persistent poverty in the absence of redistributional
mechanisms for the wealth generated. New growth theory concerns itself with the
accumulation of wealth in a country or region; use of that wealth for human devel-
opment is someone else’s project.
Innovation Systems
A third line of recent research on science, technology, and development draws on the
concepts of evolutionary economics and traces them concretely into networks of
actors and the relations among them in developing countries. This is the burgeoning
work on innovation systems, which has three main types: national, regional (subna-
tional), and sectoral (product-specific). The concepts were introduced and developed
by Freeman (1982), Nelson (1993), and Lundvall (1992) and have been developed by
Edquist (1997) at the national level,by Braczyk et al. (2003) at the regional level, and
by Malerba (2004) at the sectoral level. Several recent volumes explore applications
specifically in the context of developing countries (Cassiolato et al., 2003; Muchie
et al., 2004; Baskaran & Muchie, 2006).
An innovation system consists of elements and their relationships (Edquist, 1997);
it is a network of actors, like the ones found in actor-network theory in STS (Callon,
1999; Latour, 1987). The three usual categories of actors discussed are firms, govern-
ment, and research institutions, including public sector laboratories and universities.
The concept has no problem accommodating new forms of actors, for example, the
nongovernmental research organizations Shrum (2000) describes, or hybrid forms
such as university-associated research parks. Likewise, in principle, civil society orga-
nizations could be included, but in practice they seldom appear in the stories inno-
vation systems researchers tell (their “case studies”). Nonetheless, firms are at the
center of the networks, and a healthy innovation system is one in which firms are in
the lead. Many forms of relationships appear in the stories, from competition through
exchange and collaboration. The network can have multiple levels or subnetworks.
For example, it can incorporate governmental actors at regional, national, and supra-
national levels (e.g., the European Union). Sectors could form subareas of a regional
As in the previous two perspectives, knowledge plays a central role in the concept
of the innovation system. The life process of an innovation system is learning, which
involves accessing, accumulating, and applying knowledge (single-loop learning),
reacting to changes in the environment (double-loop learning), and using internally
generated knowledge to transform the environment (triple-loop learning) (OECD,
2002). The value of the network in the system is that it increases learning through
interaction and sharing. Everyone is supposed to learn in an innovation system: indi-
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viduals, firms, other institutions, and the system itself. In principle, the sources of
knowledge can be as heterogeneous as the actors involved in the network, although
again in practice, organizational, business, and technical knowledge are privileged in
innovation system accounts.
What is the project of an innovation system? Implicitly, the goal is growth. This
focus is clear in the central role given to firms. While the centrality of learning might
seem to create an affinity with the development-as-freedom approach, and although
the founders claim to be analyzing societal learning processes (Johnson & Lundvall,
2003), the innovation systems literature devotes little concrete attention to whether
learning extends beyond the network of firms, government agencies, and laboratories.
Innovation systems could easily be elite in composition; the concept does not require
otherwise. Likewise, the concept is neutral on whether the systems are oriented toward
socially constructive or destructive technologies (e.g., vaccines or weapons systems).
The literature on regional innovation systems has a geographically redistributive slant,
exploring the ways that less wealthy regions could become wealthier. Likewise, the
application of the concept to countries in the global South also supports an economic
catch-up agenda (Johnson & Lundvall, 2003). But very few scholars of innovation
systems have emphasized the importance of innovation for social productivity or
poverty alleviation (for exceptions, see Arocena & Senkar, 2003; Arocena & Sutz, 2001,
2003; Sutz, 2003).
Each of these three literatures, then, peers into life in the South through a different
lens, with some version of knowledge playing a key role in each. New growth theory
focuses on the role of the State in assuring the conditions for economic growth
through monopoly over new commercially important knowledge (we call this angle
knowledge as growth). The innovation systems approach focuses on firms and their
learning processes, asking how these can be enhanced by incentives and interactions
with other institutions (knowledge as learning). The STS literature follows the science
and technology institutions of the North as they encounter and engage knowledge
produced in other contexts in the South, with a focus on the empowerment of civil
society organizations and marginalized groups (knowledge as confrontation). None of
the perspectives explicitly takes development-as-freedom as its goal nor explores con-
cretely how the approach would contribute to meeting the basic needs of the world’s
The various development paradigms that have appeared in succession over the past
half-century (Gore, 2000) have shared an assumption of strategy and action: some set
of actors in the context of a poor country should take a specified set of steps toward
“development.” The paradigms direct various policy prescriptions to this assumed, but
often unnamed, set of actors. But the three perspectives we have outlined above
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identify a multi-actor space, one in which the interests of civil society, the State, and
private firms may not coincide, and surely do not necessarily add up to development
as freedom. This section examines three common development tasks assigned by the
current paradigm to these various actors and analyzes the prospects for the contribu-
tion of each to development as freedom.
Education as Freedom
Standing at the civil society corner of figure 31.1, we examine the process of educa-
tion. The importance of education, in particular, science and technology education,
as a means of augmenting productivity, increasing innovation, and solving social
problems is a recurrent theme in the literature on education and on development
(Lewin, 2000a,b; UNESCO, 2004; Watson et al., 2003). The economic success of Japan
and more recently the East Asian tigers are cited as examples in which the emphasis
on education has paid great dividends in the countries’ development efforts (Mingat,
1998). Scientific and technological education in developing countries faces con-
straints, such as insufficient teachers, inadequate skills, lack of equipment (Sane, 1999)
and inadequate access due to poverty and poor student interest in study and careers
in science or engineering (UNESCO, 2004). Education policy, observers point out,
needs to take other factors into account, such as macroeconomic and trade policies,
institutions (legal and political systems), factor endowments, and sociocultural envi-
ronment (Banerjee, 1998; Hunter & Brown, 2000).
Education is central to the concept of development as freedom. The application of
the concept goes well beyond programs that address basic needs, such as training in
cleaner production (Huhtala et al., 2003) and strengthening the research capability in
reproductive health problems (Benagiano & Diczfalusy, 1995). The world’s citizens
794 Susan E. Cozzens et al.
Knowledge as growth
Knowledge as confrontation
(Civil society)
Knowledge as learning
(Private firms)
Figure 31.1
The development triangle.
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need education to achieve both stable livelihoods and political voice; education is thus
seen as a significant contributor to increasing democracy, social justice, and individ-
ual empowerment (Kyle, 1999; Zahur et al., 2002). Since literacy is fundamental to
achieving these goals, the policy directions of international agencies have often sug-
gested that developing countries should increase the share of their public expenditure
on primary education (Curtin & Nelson, 1999).
New growth theory, in contrast, puts more emphasis on higher education and tech-
nical skills to feed the innovation process. Viewed from the angle of State action,
resources allocated to education become “investments in human capital” rather than
Sen’s means and ends of freedom. Economists struggle with the difficulties in identi-
fying the true social returns across primary, secondary, and tertiary levels of education
(Birdsall, 1996; Heyneman, 2003; Vlaardingerbroek, 1998), and views on the efficacy
and relevance of recommended programs are mixed (Curtin & Nelson, 1999;
Heyneman, 2003). Nonetheless, investments in higher education appear to econo-
mists to be at least as crucial as those at the primary level, setting up difficult trade-
offs for policy makers.
The “human capital” terminology suggests that government policies should not
only address the direct provision of education and training but should also facilitate
and encourage the private sector to play active roles, as several model economies in
Asia have done. The educational strategies of the Asian tigers provide valuable insights
for other developing countries, but the contextual underpinnings have to be taken
into consideration (Kuruvilla et al., 2002). The role of government cannot be static,
as illustrated by the changing role of the Korean government with respect to R&D and
training (Hee & Soo, 1997).
Like the STS approach, the literature on science education acknowledges the con-
frontation between forms of knowledge shaped in the North and those shaped in the
South. The literature often describes developing countries as facing “challenges” result-
ing from the conceptualization of science from a Western European perspective, which
imposes changes in the worldview, culture, and behavior of students including cog-
nitive learning and the use of language (Gray, 1999; Jegede, 1997; Lewin, 2000b). Some
authors note that developing countries need to adapt Northern learning to make
science education relevant to local culture and context (Bajracharya & Brouwer, 1997;
Brown-Acquaye, 2001; Gray, 1999). Others point out that formal and informal science
education both contribute to the popularization of science and to building a “scien-
tific culture,” and urge public/private partnerships in the establishment of science
centers are though to play an important role (Tan & Subramaniam, 2003). A sym-
metrical approach to knowledge would take each of these activities as a site for neutral
epistemological research, but such studies are rare while the rush to adopt Northern
approaches is common.
STS researchers following “big science” into the global South would find it being
put to use in attracting young people to technical careers. The regional Centres for
Space Science and Technology Education in Africa (Abiodun, 1993; Balogun, 2002)
are described as contributing to human capital and the process of development.
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Supporters anticipate that the regions will not only reap direct benefits of education
in space science and technology but will also derive benefits from research associated
with curriculum development, pedagogy, and delivery methods in space education
(Andreescu et al., 1997; Hsiao et al., 1997; Kasturirangan, 1997; Lang, 2004). “Whose
projects are such centers?” STS analysts would be likely to ask. The same question
could be asked of institutions such as the Third World Academy of Science (TWAS)
and of efforts to establish national academies of science (Guinnessy, 2003). These activ-
ities promote the exchange of information through networks of cooperation and sci-
entific excellence while at the same time extending the power and prestige of Northern
science into Southern institutions.
A broader concept of societal learning, more akin to the innovation systems
approach, is implied in the literature on training strategies that encompass building
skills for design and development (Alic, 1995), management and technical know-how
related to the technology acquisition (Alp et al., 1997), as well as technical skills for
using advanced equipment and machinery. Economists point out that threshold levels
of absorptive capacity are needed to maximize the benefits of technological invest-
ments and capital flows (Borensztein et al., 1998; Eicher, 1999; Keller, 1996), which
impact skills building and knowledge flows (Lall, 2002; Reddy, 1997). In studies of
education in Malaysia and Korea, Snodgrass notes that while education may be seen
as a necessary condition for economic growth, it is not a sufficient condition. For edu-
cation to boost growth, the demand for educated or skilled labor must also increase
(Snodgrass, 1998). In addition to building lower level skills for increasing productiv-
ity and efficiency, higher level skills in management, political leadership, and bureau-
cracy are required (Rodrigo, 2001). In this view, skills are built not only in the formal
education system but also through on-the-job experience, or learning by doing;
however, higher level skills are more difficult to acquire in this way (Rodrigo, 2001).
In summary, education is valued from all three corners of the triangle, but it does
not necessarily bring freedom at the core. If education is a top-down process of infus-
ing Northern science and its concepts into more and more people in the South, its
contributions to freedom are important but limited. If education is undertaken as part
of a societal learning process, however, weaving together new and old insights into a
locally defined and controlled process of change, both innovation and freedom could
be strengthened.
Innovation Policies
For developing countries, the creative destruction of a global, knowledge-based
economy has created an unstable and uncontrollable environment (Hipkin, 2004).
New growth theory stresses that technological innovation may be the only way to
survive and prosper in today’s world (Sikka, 1997). Toward this end, commonly rec-
ommended State actions include investing in research and development (R&D), cre-
ating the conditions for foreign direct investment, and strengthening intellectual
property policies. All these steps are problematic, however, from the viewpoints of
civil society, learning firms, and development as freedom.
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Investment in National R&D As with the tradeoff between primary and tertiary educa-
tion, public investments in R&D are the site of conflict between the human develop-
ment and competitiveness projects. The resources available are modest: at the
aggregate level, R&D expenditure as a percentage of gross national product (GNP) in
developing countries is still much lower than that observed in industrialized coun-
tries (Bowonder & Satish, 2003). Additionally, national R&D intensity tends to increase
in line with per capita income (Mitchell, 1999). In developing countries, R&D expen-
ditures by higher education institutions and government agencies are far higher than
R&D spent by private firms. In theory, this could be an advantage for engaging civil
society and developing a capacity for learning with regard to local problems. But in
practice, these groups are seldom included in the discussion about research agenda,
and the effort is continually undermined by the pull of research agendas from the
North (Sutz, 2003).
According to the literature, the prospects are not much better for using national
R&D spending to stimulate the learning process in industry. Particularly in the area
of biotechnology, governments in developing countries have played major roles in
pursuing R&D because the private sector is too weak to lead the way in accessing the
new tools and technologies (Byerlee & Fischer, 2002). R&D activities in many devel-
oping countries address local needs that are not of broad international significance
(Albuquerque, 2000). As seen in a study of domestic patent data in Brazil, there is a
higher share of individual patents rather than of company patents. University R&D
in Latin America has not been particularly relevant to the needs of industries (Arocena
& Sutz, 2001), partly because the connection between industries and universities is
usually weak.
Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) Foreign direct investment has been seen by most devel-
oping countries as a shortcut not only to economic benefits but also to acquiring
capacity for technological innovation (Sjoholm, 1999). Arze and Svensson (1997)
claim that over time technology from FDI and domestic innovative capacities are inter-
dependent. As an example, in Indonesia, spillovers from FDI can be found in certain
manufacturing sectors, as reflected by the increasing productivity of locally owned
firms. Moreover, the larger the technology gaps between domestic and foreign firms,
the larger the spillovers. Nonetheless, the literature notes that the positive effects of
FDI are not automatic. Host country characteristics and supporting policies including
fiscal incentives, available skilled workers, and competitive environment are impor-
tant factors in facilitating spillovers to local domestic firms (Blomstrom & Kokko,
2001; Lall, 1995).
The effects of FDI in developing countries are far from proved. The study of Uruguay
by Kokko and Zejan (2001) has shown some evidence that the presence of FDI has no
apparent impact on local productivity except for increasing the chances of exporting
by local firms. On the contrary, instead of benefiting local firms in terms of technology
transfer, FDI can create a competitive environment, resulting in pressure on local firms
to increase their efficiency (Okamoto, 1999). Furthermore, clustered FDI is significantly
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better than dispersed FDI, particularly in terms of transferring technology (Thompson,
2002). Developing countries also need to be concerned about the issue of higher
unemployment when adopting new technologies (Diwan & Walton, 1997).
Studies of firms and industries that are considering locating in developing countries
have shown that several aspects of local contexts are competitive priorities for them,
including labor availability, level of local competition, government laws and regula-
tion, and market dynamism (Badri, 2000). However, local firms in some developing
countries have a hard time coping with these new entrants into the domestic market.
For example, there is decreasing room for locally owned companies in automobile
industries in South Africa (Barnes & Kaplinsky, 2000). In other cases, emerging multi-
nationals based in developing countries enjoy global success by fostering continual
cross-border learning to help them move up the value chain (Barlett & Ghosal, 2000).
In the absence of competition from foreign firms, it was difficult for local firms in
India to develop their technological capabilities to penetrate the global market, with
the result that most stayed inefficient (Bowonder, 1998).
The literature stresses that globalized competition has transformed production
systems for both developed and developing countries (Fleury, 1999). In particular,
multinational corporations have not only invested in manufacturing plants for the
production of their product but also in R&D in places they consider appropriate.
Studies have indicated the positive influence of such remote R&D facilities in many
developing countries like Brazil, China, and Taiwan (Bowonder, 2001). On the other
hand, if developing countries rely excessively on high-tech industry outsourced from
foreign firms, they might discourage domestic firms from taking on more complex
projects or moving up to higher levels of the product value chain, as illustrated in
India by the success of software industry (D’Costa, 2002) and the failure of the hard-
ware industry (Khan, 2001).
Intellectual Property Policies A third example of a recommended policy that is likely to
have mixed results is the new agreement on Trade-Related Intellectual Property Rights
(TRIPS), negotiated through the World Trade Organization. The literature on the impli-
cations of TRIPs for developing countries has been negative or cautiously neutral at
best (Correa, 1998, 2000; Hoekman et al., 2002; South Centre, 1997; UNCTAD, 1996).
Some analysts maintain that stronger intellectual property rights (IPRs) will ultimately
help developing countries through increased technological activities domestically and
enhanced technological inflows from abroad. Critics say this claim is merely in the
interests of developed countries and assert that stronger IPR protection would benefit
only industrialized countries and the companies that export IPR-based technologies
(Bronckers, 1994; Dealmeida, 1995).
The debate over TRIPS raises explicitly the issue of “voice” for the South—the
national-level version of the STS issue of voice for marginalized groups within devel-
oping countries. For example, some observers have criticized TRIPs for excessive rep-
resentation of private business interests of developed countries (Sell & Prakash, 2004),
for additional bilateral pressure for heightened IPR protection beyond what is required
798 Susan E. Cozzens et al.
HTN31 5/21/07 10:33 AM Page 798
under the TRIPs agreement (Drahos, 2001), for structural weakness in the ability of
developing countries to participate in the WTO judicial process (Shaffer, 2004), and
for ineffective measures for developing countries to sanction developed countries
under the WTO system (Bronckers & van den Broek, 2005; Subramanian & Watal,
TRIPs creates another direct tradeoff between the human development and
competitiveness projects. Drug prices are expected to rise under TRIPs because of
increased requirements for patenting pharmaceuticals. This price rise could have
far-reaching implications for global public health by exacerbating limited access to
essential drugs to treat major diseases in poor countries, diseases that account for a
millions of deaths (Attaran, 2004; Perez-Casas et al., 2001; Scherer & Watal, 2002;
Subramanian, 1995; Wagner & McCarthy, 2004). A fierce conflict has erupted over
HIV/AIDS medications. On the one side are developed countries, backed by their
multinational pharmaceutical companies, and on the other, some developing coun-
tries such as South Africa, Brazil, and Thailand, (Bond, 1999; Schuklenk & Ashcroft,
2002; Sell & Prakash, 2004). The TRIPs agreement will hurt the pharmaceutical indus-
try in some countries (including India) by prohibiting their manufacturing generic
drugs as inexpensively as in the pre-TRIPs era (Watal, 2000). Many developing coun-
tries are also concerned about the lack of research on drugs for diseases prevalent in
their countries (Grabowski, 2002; Kremer, 2002; Lanjouw & Cockburn, 2001; Mahoney
et al., 2004).
Since many developing countries heavily rely on their agricultural sector, the TRIPs
requirements regarding plant varieties and plant breeders’ rights have also been con-
troversial (Macilwain, 1998; Srinivasan, 2003, 2004). Several problematic post-TRIPs
developments in biotechnology have intensified the concerns of many developing
countries about theft of traditional knowledge, a problem that particularly affects
indigenous communities. Local knowledge that has been held for centuries by indige-
nous communities and general public may end up as part of the intellectual property
of developed countries. This new phenomenon, dubbed “biopiracy,” has generated its
own literature with regard to pharmaceuticals (Hamilton, 2004; Timmermans, 2003),
plant varieties (Macilwain, 1998; Srinivasan & Thirtle, 2003), and biodiversity (Bhat,
1996; Brechin et al., 2002; Kate & Laird, 1999; Posey & Dutfield, 1996). This topic is
rife with knowledge confrontation, and it is surprising that not more STS literature
has been devoted to this topic.
The TRIPS agreement has also come under criticism for its negative impact on global
public goods (Maskus & Reichman, 2004). Any incursion of private knowledge into
public knowledge reduces the global capacity to learn and therefore to innovate, so
from the viewpoint of innovation systems, the incentives IPRs provide for innovation
are at least partially outweighed by the costs in loss of available information.
Summary Overall, then, the growth prescriptions for the State corner of the devel-
opment triangle hold little that is helpful in the other two corners. The stunning
absence of attention to development as freedom in these prescriptions speaks volumes
Knowledge and Development 799
HTN31 5/21/07 10:33 AM Page 799
about the disconnect between currently fashionable national poverty reduction strat-
egy papers and the dominant ideas about overall economic growth.
Learning Firms
In the literature on innovation processes in private industry, the landscape of devel-
opment as viewed from the corner of private firms is crowded with networks and
alliances with other firms, either inside or outside the country in question. The occa-
sional publicly supported research institution appears, but the State is off in the
distance as a network facilitator, and civil society appears only as “markets” or “cus-
tomers” for goods and services. Employment and labor issues are invisible.
As suggested by Ernst et al. (1998) and Arnold et al. (2000), to obtain technology,
firms face the choice of creating their own technology or acquiring technology from outside.
To create technology of their own, firms need the capacities ranging from adapting
and reverse engineering to developing their own prototype technology by performing
their own R&D. In acquiring technology from outside, the firm faces further choices
in selecting, adopting, and implementing technologies. The adoption/adaptation
process must be a knowledge confrontation but again one that the STS literature has
not studied.
In fact, according to innovation theory, firms are not inclined to innovate on their
own without receiving any knowledge, skills, technical support, methods, and instru-
ments from outside. Rather, innovative firms are thought to be embedded in a
complex network of relationships with customers, suppliers, research institutes, indus-
try associations, and so on. Some scholars (Porter, 1990) refer to this interdependence
as a “cluster.” The new-tech agglomeration in Beijing, for example, seems to contain
all the necessary elements of entrepreneurship: small firms, new firm formation, and
innovativeness. Nonetheless, there are also weaknesses in that cluster, including
limited direct global linkages with multinational firms and restraints on networking
with state-owned institutions and firms (Wang & Wang, 1998). As this example illus-
trates, the literature on clusters tends to focus on learning from other firms rather than
from local communities.
The literature in this area often identifies the State in the South as too weak to
sustain the diffusion process (see, e.g., Conceicao & Gibson, 2001; Di Benedetto &
Calantone, 2003). In a weak State, decentralized decision-making leads to duplication
of efforts and hence reduces learning opportunities. The steel industry in India illus-
trates the effects of this fragmentation (D’Costa, 1998). Likewise, some firms in the
auto industry in India failed to adopt best practices, resulting in poor performance
(Diwan & Walton, 1997).
For firms in developing countries, both learning and imitating are primary capabil-
ities affecting technological progress (Gao & Xu, 2001), as illustrated by the
video/compact disk industry in China. Moreover, the learning processes of small and
large firms in the same industry of the same country can be quite different. The case
of color television manufacturers in China has shown that the one that focused on
the local market was less successful than the one concentrating on the export market
800 Susan E. Cozzens et al.
HTN31 5/21/07 10:33 AM Page 800
(Xie & Wu, 2003). In addition, the study of a Chinese firm originally spun off from a
government-supported research institute indicates an evolutionary pattern of path-
dependency, from sales to distribution and service activities, to manufacturing
product, process design, and finally R&D (Xie & White, 2004).
Studies reveal that clustering and networking help small and medium entrepreneurs
(SMEs) improve their competitiveness. In short, Humphrey and Schmitz (1996) have
offered the “triple C” concept—customer-oriented, collective, and cumulative. Despite
suffering from competition with their counterparts in developed countries, high-tech
manufacturing firms in developing country need to identify proper technical strate-
gies to flourish in times of national growth. These strategies include (1) using market
opportunities or growth consistent with the firm’s capacity and competitive advan-
tage, (2) continually expanding the business to acquire expertise and capital enabling
increasingly sophisticated processes, and (3) cooperating with technical forerunners
(Wang & Pollard, 2002).
Governments in developing countries can facilitate networking in many ways. For
example, China’s Shanghai-Volkswagen (SVW) developed vertical networks among its
suppliers because the Shanghai government encouraged it to promote outsourcing and
extend supplier networks across the entire country. On the contrary, in the case of
Proton in Malaysia, vertical networks did not occur among suppliers because the gov-
ernment limited the networking range (Yoshimatsu, 2000).
Summary The literature on firm-level innovation in developing countries is rather
narrowly focused on issues of company survival in a global competitive environment.
Company survival is necessary for growth, and growth is helpful in human develop-
ment, but neither assures that development as freedom will be reached. There is plenty
of discussion of dynamics along the State–private firm edge of the development tri-
angle but virtually none on dynamics along the civil society–private firm edge. Given
the analysis in the previous section of the weakness of the State in mediating between
the human development and competitiveness agendas, dynamics on the third edge
(between civil society and the State) do not provide any immediate hope for uniting
knowledge and learning with development as freedom, unless a broader concept of
innovation and learning is adopted. We turn now to this possibility.
This review has deliberately juxtaposed three literatures that are not usually brought
together. The mostly economic literatures on knowledge as growth and knowledge as
learning conventionally overlap and complement one another. But they are both
mutually invisible to the literature on knowledge as confrontation, that is, the writ-
ings in the field of science and technology studies on developing countries. The devel-
opment triangle (see figure 31.1) therefore may not unite the three themes but rather
capture their mutual neglect. The STS literature neglects business; the literature on
the developmental State neglects civil society, at least when it deals with innovation
Knowledge and Development 801
HTN31 5/21/07 10:33 AM Page 801
policies; and the literature on learning and competence building systems by and large
neglects the contributions of civil society. They all neglect development as freedom.
So are these three topics irrelevant to reaching development as freedom? Surely not.
Economic growth is a necessary if not sufficient condition for improving everyday
lives for the world’s poor, although as Sen himself shows, it is not the accumulation
of wealth that matters for health and education but rather how wealth is used. Learn-
ing is certainly a crucial process for human beings to free themselves from disease and
illiteracy and to achieve open speech and participation. Part of that learning must take
place in the workplace. Likewise, no matter how seemingly abstract the categories used
to analyze them, knowledge confrontations have real consequences.
To increase its contributions to development as freedom, however, each of these three
literatures must move its intellectual agenda closer to the center of the development
triangle (figure 31.2). The literature on knowledge as growth has a close cousin in the
literature on growth and inequality, and growth and human development. It needs to
pay attention to these concepts and break loose from the narrow confines of the com-
petitiveness project to embrace a broader concept of social productivity. How much
more quality of life will the citizens of a country gain from a particular public invest-
ment? The answer is not captured in standard economic measurement, but it should
be. The literature on learning and competence building systems needs to live up to its
own ambitions to consider societal learning processes, not just those in private firms.
Innovation can move in many directions. Rather than remaining silent on direction of
technological change, this literature needs to articulate the kinds of learning that would
orient private industry toward businesses with wider social benefits,
Finally, the STS literature needs to engage with the real world of knowledge in devel-
opment. It is not enough to follow the actors from research institutions in the North
802 Susan E. Cozzens et al.
Knowledge as growth
Knowledge as power
(Civil society)
Knowledge as learning
(Private firms)
Figure 31.2
Moving toward the center of the development triangle.
HTN31 5/21/07 10:33 AM Page 802
to those of the South, and in particular to follow oneself in that role. Standing on the
side of marginalized communities is an excellent vantage point for analyzing knowl-
edge confrontations that matter. STS needs to actively look for and carefully study
success stories in the transfer of power through knowledge, with the goal of inform-
ing the practice of those at the bottom.
In this chapter, we have tried, like Sen, “to present, analyze and defend a
particular approach to development, seen as a process of expanding substantive
freedoms that people have” (Sen, 2000: 297). We have viewed science and technology
as forms of knowledge and learning and explored several ways that they contribute
to the process of achieving development as freedom. We hope that the next
chapter on this topic in the next Handbook will be able to celebrate progress toward
that goal.
1. We define the global South as the middle- and low-income countries of Africa, Asia, and Latin
America, and the global North as the high-income nations of the world. For the former group, we also
sometimes use the terms developing world or developing countries. The transition countries of Eastern
Europe and the former Soviet Union offer a different set of development experiences, which are not
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... Access to knowledge, its accumulation as well as its application in relation to changes in the operational environment and to internal creativity constitute the most common representation of organizational learning, although it is a somewhat reductive one. It implies, in fact, that all the actors in an innovation system learn, and that the aim of the system is constant growth, with scant attention paid to aspects such as social productivity (the reduction of poverty) or relations with developing countries amid globalization (Cozzens et al. 2008 ) . ...
Full-text available
While mainstream innovation literature assumes knowledge as an object, a new resource for innovation, a practice-based approach to innovation conceptualizes it in processual, incremental and continuous terms. Innovative processes will consequently be analysed as situated in the everyday activities of a community of practitioners, so that innovation is conceptualized as neither separate nor separable from learning, working and organizing. From this perspective derives a specific dynamics of innovation as the constant refinement of practice within a texture of practices. When work practices are viewed from the standpoint of the practitioners, what is of interest is the attachment that ties subjects to objects, technologies, the places of practices, and other practitioners. The continuous innovation of practice springs from the constant elaboration of the canons with which the community appraises and judges the object of the practice. Dissent is therefore an element that drives the constant endeavour to refine the methods and meaning of the practice for those who derive identity from it. The pleasure of practising and sharing that pleasure, passion as attachment to the object of the practice, and mediation with the tools of the practice are the elements that sustain the reproduction of practices and which make it possible to answer the questions as to why a practice continues to be practised and how it changes by being practised.
This introduction to the book The Capability Approach, Technology and Design consists of five parts. After a very short general introduction, I will first briefly present the capability approach, including the main concepts and debates about it. Next, I will – in an extensive literature review – take stock of what has been published so far on the capability approach, technology and design – what are the most interesting themes, discussions and ways of applying the approach? This will be divided in two sections: one on technology in general and one, more specifically, on ICT. Then I will highlight some interesting points and recurring themes from the different chapters of this book. I will end with some final reflections on the future of this emerging research topic.
India is one of the most prominent developing countries where modern science from Europe came to dominate education as early as in the 19th century. Yet, her economic development trail behind many of the developing countries. The colonial rule provides clues to the processes of disjunctions between pure and applied science and, between research and development. The weakness of the post-colonial state to politically resolve crucial economic issues and undertake strategic development policies gave way to the 'technocratic' solutions that entrench the earlier trend. The weakness of harnessing science to commercially viable and competitive technology is better explained by the 'receiving system' than the human capital formation as postulated in the 'New Growth Theory'.
Developing countries assert that the limited size of their markets renders conventional trade retaliatory actions by them ineffective. The complaint is that they have no effective mechanism for forcing developed countries into compliance with WTO obligations that have market access consequences for developing countries. This paper proposes a design for the use of TRIPS as a retaliatory weapon in WTO trade disputes that would overcome some of these difficulties. The proposal has many advantages: it is feasible, effective, legal, and has certain attractive attributes that are absent in conventional trade retaliation. The very presence of the threat of such retaliatory action in domestic intellectual property legislation could lead to improved compliance by developed countries.
Based on the statist perspective, this paper examines the role played by the government in nurturing both auto parts manufacturers and the parts-supply systems in developing countries. Undertaking a comparative case study of China's Shanghai-Volkswagen (SVW) and Malaysia's Proton, this paper argues that government interventionist policies were critical in supporting parts manufacturers, which were small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) with weak financial and technological bases. Government commitment was also key in encouraging the foreign partners in the joint ventures to commit themselves to localization and technology transfer. At the same time, this government-led industrialization was accompanied by negative side-effects including the rise of vehicle retail prices and the inadequate international competitiveness of parts suppliers. This study also found that government policy orientation could influence the structure of the parts-supply system. SVW was able to develop vertical networks among its suppliers because the Shanghai government encouraged SVW to promote outsourcing and extend supplier networks across the entire country. In contrast, vertical networks did not develop substantially among Proton's suppliers because the Malaysian government limited the range of suppliers by favoring bumiputera (indigenous Malay) enterprises against relatively competitive Chinese enterprises. Japan.
Innovation and technological change follow markedly different pathways depending on the sector in which they take place. Contributions from eighteen experts in their fields consider the framework of sectoral systems of innovation to analyze the innovation process, factors affecting innovation, the relationship between innovation and industry dynamics, changing boundaries and transformation of sectors, and the determinants of the innovation performance of firms and countries in different sectors. © Cambridge University Press, 2004 and Cambridge University Press, 2009.