Innovation and Inequality

Innovation and Inequality

Emerging Technologies in an Unequal World

Edited by Susan Cozzens and Dhanaraj Thakur

Inequality is one of the main features of globalization. Do emerging technologies, as they spread around the world, contribute to more inequality or less? This unique interdisciplinary text examines the relationships between emerging technologies and social, economic and other forms of inequality.

Chapter 11: Policy options for an equitable distribution of technological benefits in Jamaica

Sonia D. Gatchair

Subjects: development studies, development studies, innovation and technology, innovation policy, technology and ict, politics and public policy, public policy


This chapter provides a synopsis of the distributional consequences associated with the use of mobile phones, plant tissue culture in bananas, and recombinant insulin in Jamaica. Previously (in Chapter 2), we discussed how the constraints of size might limit the potential of Jamaica to be a technology creator as one of the smaller countries in the study. However, this same characteristic may make it easier to extend the distributional boundaries around a given technology in a rapid and broad manner. Whether or not this is the case depends on other factors that are part of Jamaica's national context, such as income inequality. In addition, we expected that some of these factors would be addressed by a progressively oriented national science and technology policy. However, markedly different policies serve to influence access to and distribution of benefits associated with each of the three technologies. Regulatory policies associated with liberalization and the development of a competitive environment had greater effects on distributional consequences associated with mobile phones when compared to the other two technologies. In the case of tissue culture, capacity building including training and the development of laboratory facilities were among the primary factors that increased access and the distribution of benefits from the technology. Although there was some local production of tissue-culture banana plantlets, which provided small-scale farmers with the material sporadically, large-scale export farmers had access to the technology on a sustained basis from importation.

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