Science and technology and innovation studies

This Research Focus Area (RFA) seeks to consolidate existing work done by the institutional hosts and partners (scientometrics and bibliometrics at SU’s CREST and LU’s CWTS; political economy at TUT’s IERI, and higher-education studies at CHET), and to expand the opportunities for critical studies on the role of S&T and innovation in society, the economy, and in governance. This work is necessarily interdisciplinary and includes consideration of social and cultural values, economic ideologies and government policies that influence the development and direction of S&T and innovation policies and their implementation locally, regionally and globally. The objective is to develop an analytical coverage of the entire spectrum of S&T and innovation activities, ranging from historiography to policy, practice and foresight, and to impact and outcome studies.

This RFA provides critical analyses of the transformational and transactional processes determining the creation, dissemination, diffusion, and the utilisation of the results of research and development (R&D) as part of S&T in advancing innovation. It concentrates on the roles of knowledge, governance and policy making, and its implementation, towards the realisation of local, regional and global social, economic and political objectives.

To achieve the RFA objectives, the projects in these area deal with fundamental problems in SA and in the developing world: diversity; inclusive and grassroots innovation; sustainable and equitable development; and then broadening to include the post-2015 development goals and the contribution of SA to new indicators of development. While the primary focus is on SA, this RFA extends the work of the SciSTIP CoE to include other African, Asian and Latin American countries of the global South.

Research in SA is designed to build on the approach adopted by the SA Government of a National Systems of Innovation (NSI) and its use in reorganising its R&D competences. The NSI framework is widely used elsewhere and supports comparative analysis of innovation activities and innovation policy and their implementation and evaluation in SA and other countries.
Innovation is critically linked to economic growth but, as has been variously evidenced, can have negative as well as positive consequences for society and politics. The interdisciplinary nature of this RFA addresses these issues and seeks to provide policy advice on managing the risk of negative outcomes. This work is being undertaken at the same time as the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the European Commission are revising the Oslo Manual which governs (for measurement purposes) the definition of innovation and the collection and interpretation of data on the activity of innovation, as well as innovation activities, including R&D. The projects should be in a position to contribute to this work adding to the international profile of SciSTIP.

While the projects of this RFA are directly relevant to policy analysis in SA, the teams responsible have the experience and competence to deliver research of a high quality that should lead to research papers and communications to the policy community and to the broader public.