n African Journal of Science, Technology, Innovation and Development - Low-income countries and innovation studies : a review of recent literature

Volume 2, Issue 3
  • ISSN : 2042-1338
  • E-ISSN: 2042-1346
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This is a review of the literature on innovation in the world's poorest (or low-income) countries (LICs), published between 1997 and 2008. It asks what role innovation plays in the LICs, and how much and what exactly we know about it. It shows that traditional innovation studies, in particular, has rather neglected the LICs. Most research addresses problems concerning agriculture and health and focuses not on firms but on individuals, households, and communities as principal units of analysis. The literature is rather fragmented and there is no evidence of a systematic research agenda concerning innovation of and for the Bottom Billion. However, there are a few incipient themes - such as learning, community participation in development projects (a concept close to user-driven innovation), or innovation diffusion versus technology transfer - around which a LICs-focused research programme could emerge.

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