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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Concluding Remarks

Francisco Sagasti


The conceptual framework advanced in the first chapter of this book, the historical overview and the characterization of the ‘triple crisis’ of the second chapter, the examination of knowledge explosion and its manifestations in the third chapter, the characterization of the knowledge divide and its meaning for developing countries in Chapter 4, and the review of the emerging international context, of the experience with science and technology policies, and of strategies, policy instruments and international cooperation in Chapter 5, all point to the critical role that endogenous science and technology capabilities play in the process of development – whatever meaning may be given to this word – at the beginning of the 21st century. Sir Francis Bacon’s 1597 dictum Nam et ipsa scientia potestas est (knowledge itself is power) has become ever more accurate during the last few decades with the emergence of the knowledge society. It has also acquired ominous overtones as the huge disparities in science and technology capacities between rich and poor nations continue to deepen. Yet, determined action, backed by well-designed strategies, policies and international cooperation, could overcome this situation and make scientific and technological knowledge work for development. Attempts to build endogenous science and technology capabilities at the beginning of the 21st century will take place in the context of a fractured global order. This constitutes a turbulent and uncertain setting for development, in which a variety of contradictory processes open up a wide range of opportunities and threats that defy established habits of thought. Among...

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