University–Industry Interactions in the Global South
Edited by Eduardo Albuquerque, Wilson Suzigan, Glenda Kruss and Keun Lee
Chapter 1: Bracing for change: making universities and firms partners for innovation in sub-Saharan Africa
Universities are traditionally known as centres of research and higher education. Globally, universities have undergone re-invention and renewal in tandem with societal change. In recent years, community development, and in particular the stimulation and spin-off of knowledge-intensive industries, has been proposed as a major contribution of universities to society. Etzkowitz and Chunyan (2008) observed that, while universities played a secondary role in early industrial society by providing trained personnel and basic research, universities now play an increasingly prominent role in the modern knowledge-based society, contributing the basis on which new industries and firms are built. Although this phenomenon has been pronounced in developed and newly industrializing economies, many developing countries are yet to realize significant change in the traditional view of universities as ivory towers of knowledge. Universities in such contexts largely remain institutions where knowledge is generated, transmitted, and preserved, with neither cognizance of its economic usefulness nor the aim of solving problems that would result in economic and social advancement. Developing countries that lag behind in the transformation of their knowledge institutions in response to the dynamics of intensely competitive industrial systems are characterized by relatively low capacity for the generation and use of economically relevant knowledge. Theory and empirical studies show that technological innovation is the engine of growth, and the instrument of structural change in competitive economies (Solow 1957; Nelson and Winter 1982; Perez and Soete 1988; Romer 1990; Barro and Sala-i-Martin 1995; Kim 1997; Lall 2001).