Producing Knowledge to Raise Rural Living Standards: How Universities Connect with Resource-Poor Municipalities in South Africa

  • Peter T. JacobsEmail author
  • Alexis Habiyaremye
  • Bhekiwe Fakudze
  • Kgabo Ramoroka
  • Siyanda Jonas
Original Article


This article explores the extent to which South African universities partake in science and innovations designed to raise the living standards of poor rural residents. It concentrates on how well universities have fulfilled their knowledge-production for societal benefit missions in practice, through a comparison of the performance of universities across three relevant initiatives. It contributes to the existing research by showcasing how user-oriented innovation value chains operate and the crucial roles of stakeholders along such chains to optimise benefits for people in resource-poor rural municipalities. Our findings suggest that the science-for-society value chain is non-linear, rather than a straight line as presumed by much of the existing research. As the government department leading South Africa’s innovation policy, the Department of Science and Technology has been instrumental in fostering a user-oriented mission among knowledge producers.


Innovation Universities Co-learning Communities Participatory Developmental 


Cet article examine dans quelle mesure les universités sud-africaines participent à la science et aux innovations conçues pour améliorer le niveau de vie des résidents ruraux pauvres. Il se focalise sur la manière dont les universités ont concrètement rempli leur mission de production de connaissances pour le bénéfice de la société, en comparant les performances des universités sur trois initiatives pertinentes. Nous contribuons aux recherches existantes en mettant en lumière le mode de fonctionnement des chaînes de valeur des innovation orientées vers les utilisateurs ainsi que le rôle crucial des parties prenantes tout au long de ces chaînes pour optimiser les avantages de ces innovations pour les habitants des municipalités rurales disposant de peu de ressources. Nos résultats suggèrent que la chaîne de valeur de la science pour la société est non linéaire, contrairement aux affirmations d’une grande partie de la recherche existante qui la présume linéaire. En tant que ministère responsable de la politique d’innovation de l’Afrique du Sud, le Département de la Science et de la Technologie a joué un rôle déterminant dans la promotion d’une mission axée sur les utilisateurs parmi les producteurs de connaissances.



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Copyright information

© European Association of Development Research and Training Institutes (EADI) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Peter T. Jacobs
    • 1
    Email author
  • Alexis Habiyaremye
    • 1
  • Bhekiwe Fakudze
    • 2
  • Kgabo Ramoroka
    • 2
  • Siyanda Jonas
    • 2
  1. 1.Economic Performance and Development, Human Sciences Research CouncilCape TownSouth Africa
  2. 2.Economic Performance and Development, Human Sciences Research CouncilPretoriaSouth Africa

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