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Britta Rennkamp

The idea of the innovation policy dance suggests that innovation theory, policy and practice correspond to each other. This chapter analyses these three elements of innovation studies in two highly unequal societies: Brazil and South Africa. The question is how innovation theory, policy and practice account for the steep income inequalities in developing countries. How do innovation policies address both high- and low-income demands? The analysis finds that theories, policies and practices still don’t fully account for the characteristics in highly unequal developing nations. Theories and policies continue to derive from experiences in the industrialized nations. The analysis of Brazilian and South African innovation policy shows that the discourse and practice on social and pro-poor innovation are still rudimentary and not prioritized. The Brazilian government passed specific innovation legislation and runs skills development programmes to boost innovation. The South African programmes show very little focus on social innovation. Both governments adopted legislator and institutional design from Europe as opposed to designing their innovation policies according to the local practitioners’ needs. In these instances the innovation policy dance is out of sync.