Knowledge and Innovation for Development
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Knowledge and Innovation for Development

The Sisyphus Challenge of the 21st Century

Francisco Sagasti

This text provides a comprehensive introduction to the many different issues related to the Sisyphean task of building science and technology capabilities in developing countries. It attempts to answer crucial questions including: how can knowledge be utilized to improve the human condition, and how can we bridge the growing knowledge divide between those who produce and use modern science and technology – and those who do not?
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Chapter 5: Strategies and Policies for Building an Endogenous Science and Technology Base

Francisco Sagasti


The preceding chapters have made explicit the Sisyphean challenge faced by developing countries in mobilizing knowledge for development. The obstacles that must be surmounted in responding adequately to it suggest the need for well-thought-out strategies and for effective policy instruments, so as to make the best possible use of scarce resources and limited opportunities. However, even the best efforts by developing countries are unlikely to succeed in an adverse global context. Without a positive attitude and the active engagement of the global scientific and technological community, of international institutions and government agencies in developed countries, and of private sector firms, universities and research centers that control the access to knowledge and technology, it will be nearly impossible for developing countries to bridge the knowledge divide and to build endogenous science and technology capabilities. For this reason, international cooperation plays a special role in meeting this challenge. 5.1 THE CONTEXT FOR MOBILIZING KNOWLEDGE AND INNOVATION FOR DEVELOPMENT Efforts to mobilize knowledge and innovation to improve the human condition will take place in the context of a turbulent, segmented and uneven globalization process. At the beginning of the 21st century, the accelerated expansion of production and service activities throughout the world, the rapid growth of international trade and the massive exchanges of information that can be accessed anywhere in the planet, coexist with the concentration of such ‘global’ activities in certain countries, regions, cities and even neighborhoods, and a large proportion of these ‘globalized’ exchanges take place within a few hundred...

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