Technology and Innovation for Sustainable Development

  • Raphael KaplinskyEmail author


This Chapter presents the evolution of analysis and policy with regard to technology and innovation in the post-World War II period. It starts with a review of analytical issues and notes that (1) technology is created, and requires resources and focused and dedicated effort. The driving force for technological innovation and for productivity growth in capitalism has been the quest by capitalists for producer rents; (2) technology is malleable and the direction of technological progress is induced by a series of environmental factors as well as by the unfolding imperatives of the technology itself. The chapter documents the evolution of innovation and technology policy and its associated analytical discussion during the phase of import substituting industrialisation, beginning in the 1950s and ending around the end of the 1970s. This was a period in which low and middle income countries were heavily dependent on technologies imported from the high income economies, many of which were inappropriate to operating environments in low and middle income environments. Import substitution was complemented, and then succeeded by outward-oriented growth strategies from the early 1970s. This transition was associated with the growth of human and technological capabilities in many low and middle income economies. From the mid-1980s, a rapidly growing proportion of global trade occurred within Global Value Chains, which now dominate global trade and this helped to shape the direction of technological progress.

However, since the millennium, growth trajectories have faltered globally. Productivity growth has declined in the advanced economies and is static in many low and middle income economies. At the same time, the dominant growth trajectories have run into a crisis of sustainability. Not only is economic growth uneven and unstable, but its environmental and social character threaten its sustainability and the survival of life on earth. This has posed new challenges for the organisation and path of innovation, giving rise to growing attempts to foster more inclusive patterns of innovation.


Innovation Innovation policy Inclusive innovation Sustainable growth Global Value Chains 


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© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Science Policy Research Unit and Institute of Development StudiesSussex UniversityBrightonUK

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