Innovation Strategies in Developing Countries

IERI Working Paper 2009-003
Rasigan Maharajh and Erika Kraemer-Mbula

This paper is a contribution to the discussion on Innovation for Development. It is argued that innovation strategies in developing countries are the result of competing policy and contextual factors. In exploring this theme, it suggests that innovation strategies which are shaped by domestic market and policy realities are more robust and contribute towards improving the country-level performance of enterprises. The paper has seven sections which include a brief review of the literature related to innovation strategies in developing countries; a small discussion of success factors and policies of countries that offer good experiences and lessons in applying innovation strategies; a part on what policy implications to draw from the literature and the success stories for less developed countries; and a final section on the role of the donor countries in facilitating the implementation of the innovation strategies. The paper puts forward some tentative conclusions that summarise what has been learnt from the paper and affirms that the innovation-systems based strategies are indeed internationally replicable. The resulting policy and developmental frameworks will invariably exhibit high levels of variation. These differences emerge primarily from the systemic approach encouraged by the use of innovation policy. Secondly, the innovationsystems approaches ensure adaptability whilst maintaining methodological rigour. It also enables comparability and thereby also promotes appropriate and relevant benchmarking. Finally, the innovation-systems paradigm has a normative capacity to dynamically absorb and respond to the needs and demands of locally-specified domestic contexts.

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