Knowledge for Development

S&T Policy for Development

This folder contains articles that have been published in: Science and Technology Policy for development, Dialogues at the Interface, by Louk Box and Rutger Engelhard (eds) 2006, Anthem Press, UK.

The authors focus on the question of what social relations make for successful science and technology policies. In particular, their articles illustrate what happens at different social interfaces, such as between policy makers and researchers, and between the users and producers of knowledge. In other words, they are interested in the knowledge networks that are emerging between the many different actors involved in the development of science and technology.

Political Science? Strengthening science–policy dialogue in developing countries

By Nicola Jones, Harry Jones and Cora Walsh, Odi Working Paper 294, August 2008. Science and technology are playing an increasingly important role in the policy process. The value of science and technological information is already well-established in the fields of health, agriculture and natural resource management, but issues such as climate change, food security and biotechnology have recently attracted a high profile in international policy debates about sustainable development and poverty reduction. These trends are set against a background of increasing international interest in and rhetorical commitment to evidence-informed policy dialogue and processes as a means to improve development policy and practice. Surprisingly, however, there is a dearth of research that systematically examines the science–policy interface in developing countries. Even fewer analysts have sought to offer practical strategies and recommendations for strengthening linkages between scientific knowledge and the policy process.


S&T policy for development: forword and list of contents

This is a book about optimism. It builds on the convergence of evidence that three factors have contributed to rapid economic transformation in emerging economies: investment in infrastructure, the development of small and medium enterprises, and public support for knowledge-based institutions. Such public support and the accompanying policies cantake very different forms. They include public investment in higher education, but equally important, the creation of professional associations and public interest groups that focus on competence building. But they also require leadership and courage to explore new economic avenues.


Dialogues at the interface: an introduction

It is trite to state that science and technology (S&T) are a necessary condition for economic development. It would be more relevant to ask the question: how are S&T policies linked with development policies? What have we learned from the many lessons, so that effective policy experimentation can take place? This is one of the key issues in current debates around science and technology for development. As argued in the report of the UN Millennium Project Task Force on Science, Technology and Innovation,  there is an urgent need for policy experimentation to stimulate learning in developing countries. The international community set itself the Millennium Development Goal (8, target 18) to ‘make available the benefits of new technologies’. If it is serious about achieving this target, the report argues, new avenues of policy learning will need to be opened up and changes in traditional social relationships will need to be made. This book is about those changing social relationships. The authors focus on the question of what social relations make for successful science and technology policies. In particular, the various chapters illustrate what happens at different social interfaces, such as between policy makers and researchers, and between the users and producers of knowledge. In other words, they are interested in the knowledge networks that are emerging between the many different actors involved in the development of science and technology.


Knowledge dependence and its discontents

In the early days of independence there was a congruency between the intellectual ideology of the time and the development policy focus of many African states, with strong demand for domestic policy research. In contrast, the era of structural adjustment and current globalization fostered knowledge dependence, through un-negotiated policy options that tied development aid to the acceptance of ‘external’ knowledge. Today, there are new opportunities due to new leadership in the continent and the various new economic development plans that could provide the basis for a stronger domestic research-policy interface. The development of the continent will require a political leadership that appreciates the intellectual capacity of Africans, a core of confident, liberated intellectual freedom fighters who are ready to use their knowledge to liberate the continent from poverty, and the emergence of new institutions such as the African Technology Policy Studies Network (ATPS) that would provide the platform.


Regionalism and science and technology development in Africa

Regional integration offers new and increasing prospects for Africa’s scientific and technological development. If well organized and used, integration could provide the basis for developing and sharing infrastructure for research and development, and for mobilizing and using scarce expertise and financial resources. This chapter examines how science and technology considerations are being handled in the renewed efforts to promote regional economic and trade integration in Africa, and discusses new and emerging regional science and technology programmes.


Building a critical mass of researchers in the least developed countries

Knowledge is at the heart of development and qualified researchers are necessary to produce a broad base of knowledge relevant to the solution of current and future practical problems. How to create and maintain a critical mass of researchers who are able to consistently and systematically contribute to and absorb such a knowledge base? This is the focus of this chapter, with special reference to the least developed countries. It is argued that it is very unlikely that LDCs will be able to build the research capacity they need simply by adopting the research training schemes developed in the advanced countries and offered by development cooperation agencies. The reasons for this are presented and illustrated with a case study of Nicaragua.


Epistemic communities and informed policy making for promoting innovations

A group of developing countries, primarily in Asia, have emerged as important generators of new technologies. Among them, Singapore has shown one of the fastest rates of growth in generating local innovations. This chapter explains that to accomplish this, Singapore first developed a critical mass of research scientists and engineers, and then put in place a set of research grants to encourage both local and foreign enterprises to increase their investment in R&D. Singapore’s impressive performance can be attributed not only to the existence of an innovation policy and the quality of the instruments of intervention in the technology arena, but also to the existence of epistemic communities within the machinery of government itself. In other countries without such communities to aid government policy making, most policy instruments fail to achieve the desired results. In the absence of informal professional networks, innovation policy making tends to be ad hoc and subject to political compulsion.  


Science for transformation: research agendas and priorities in South Africa

How do research agendas reflect and represent the research interests of different constituencies? In South Africa, public sector research is currently being steered and shaped as a means to effect reconstruction and transformation in a society in transition. South African science is driven by a very broad and ambitious transformative agenda. One of the priorities is the reconstruction of the science system to address the needs and demands of the majority of citizens. This chapter assesses to what extent the government and its various S&T agencies are succeeding in this endeavour.


Science and technology policies through policy dialogue

To formulate a science and technology (S&T) policy, one needs an adequate description and analysis of the research, technology and development situation in a country - a diagnostic study of S&T policies as well as the S&T landscape. This chapter discusses the development of a methodology and a toolbox for doing S&T diagnostic studies in developing countries.  The methodology is not intended to be used as a recipe, but rather as a set of guidelines and boundary conditions for carrying out such studies. An important reason for developing such a toolbox is to help generate S&T diagnostic studies that, because of their common methodological base, can contribute to the creation of a new cooperation strategy for science and technology that is shared by developing and donor countries.


From development research to pro-poor policy: evidence and the change process

Better utilization of research in development policy and practice can help save lives, reduce poverty and improve economic performance. But bridging research and policy is harder than it looks. How can policy makers best use research for evidence-based policy? How can researchers promote their findings in order to influence policy? How can the interaction between researchers and policy makers be improved? These are challenges of growing practical and scholarly interest, in both North and South. This chapter provides a synthesis of the findings of recent work in ODI’s Research and Policy in Development (RAPID) programme. It outlines an analytical framework for understanding the links between evidence and policy change, and highlights key issues in four areas: political context and the demand for evidence in policy processes; the quality and relevance of evidence; the importance of links and communication; and the role of external actors in developing countries. The chapter concludes with some practical guidelines for researchers who wish to enhance the policy impact of their work.


Priority setting in research for development: a donor’s perspective

Dutch development assistance in research has taken the twin shape of technology transfer and research capacity building. In 1992 DGIS established a Research Unit to implement a new policy for utilizing and strengthening local research capacity on the basis of demand-driven research agendas. Some of the resulting Multi-annual Multi-disciplinary Research Programmes (MMRPs) developed into research organizations. Overall, the experience with the MMRPs has been rewarding in terms of utilizing local research capacity by funding local research proposals, and of enhancing the relevance of research by using a demand-oriented approach. In addition, the DGIS Research Unit supports a number of programmes where decision making is shared between Northern (mostly, but not exclusively Dutch) and Southern researchers. There is a broad consensus about the importance of supporting and utilizing local researchers and local research capacity to address local research agendas. Instead of a global research agenda with general priorities, a multitude of research agendas to address specific local priorities are emerging. In particular, the policy aimed to equip Southern researchers to address a Southern research agenda with practical research to address the priorities of the poor.


International collaboration in science and technology: promises and pitfalls

International collaborations represent a growing share of scientific and technical activities. In contrast with national programmes and projects, connections at the international level are systems of communication, facilitated by ICTs, that are often difficult to identify. Policy makers are faced with the question of how to support, benefit from and exploit them. The networks created by international collaboration in science and technology (ICST) offer opportunities for developing countries to acquire knowledge for local development, but there are few guidelines on how to manage such networked systems. The potential for missteps and the obstacles to joining networks are significant. This chapter describes the dynamics of ICST, and offers a framework for decision making about how to use the opportunities they offer to provide the demand for development.


Priority setting in technical cooperation

The Technical Cooperation Programme of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has the capacity to link scientific research and technical innovation to national, regional and global development priorities. The programme therefore provides a unique case study for science and technology-based organizations seeking to move from technology-driven to demand-based technical cooperation. This chapter examines the evolution of the programme over the last 40 years. It describes a sequence of conceptual changes within the programme in order to address the gap between science and development by fostering demand-led research, promoting technical solutions for national development priorities. The programme is also promoting cooperation between national scientific and technical institutions to encourage self-reliance and sustainability.


The use of foresight in setting agricultural research priorities

Foresight activities can be useful tools in public decision-making processes, and in particular for agricultural science and technology priority setting. Foresight complements more traditional ways of looking at the future, such as projections and models. Foresight uses a systems approach that is appropriate for agriculture and can be embedded in research organizations. This chapter describes three foresight exercises. The exploration of possible futures for a commodity (cocoa) has helped defining new research priorities, partnerships and networks. The Dutch exploration of the challenges facing agribusiness, rural areas and fisheries, and the contribution of S&T to meeting these challenges, created new networks and led to actions. IFPRI’s ‘2020 Vision’ for food, agriculture and the environment led to interesting data and reached many researchers, but did not manage to generate consensus about research priorities. Finally, the chapter discusses the prospects for the use of foresight in developing countries, especially in Africa.


A public-private partnership

Most biotechnology research and development focuses on major agricultural crops. There is an urgent need for improvements in vegetable production, especially in developing countries where the economic, health and environmental benefits of bioengineered vegetables could be great. This chapter outlines a strategy to realize this potential, involving initiating an innovative public-private sector project for developing and releasing an integrated solution to an immense insect problem in cabbage and cauliflower. It describes the basic aspects of the concept, as well as the challenges experienced in its deployment.


The emerging contextual space for priority setting in development research

This chapter examines the changing role of knowledge for development, and the issues that developing countries need to address. It argues that learning and experimentation are a necessary condition for development in the pursuit of S&T and knowledge strategies. It examines the cases of four countries to situate this context, noting the growing renaissance centred on new donor approaches to investing in knowledge for development, and suggesting that more ‘joined up’ decision-making processes are required for these strategies to be effective. The chapter underscores the need for attention to critical areas such as science advice, science communication and public engagement, and the emergence of participatory science processes. It flags the evolution of South-South partnerships, but also constraints on knowledge for development from trade to security, and from ethical concerns to human resources. It also makes the case for using tools such as foresight to anticipate outcomes and foreign policy and diplomacy to make best use of political memberships in clubs. Developing economies must also be more attentive to their own needs when interacting with donors. In the end, the South will require strong leadership, long-term commitment from society and global partnerships if knowledge is to be fully embraced as a currency for social and economic development.