14. STI policies in the global south: broadening the scope?

Convenors: Katharina Schiller, Bipashyee Ghosh, Adriana Marotti de Mello, Mei Casal, Rafael Carvalho Machado and Sumit Kumar.

Session type: Full paper session.

In the past decade, a growing number of countries in the Global South have formulated STI policies based on the innovation system approach. With the recognition of STI policies as a means of implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, their scope may further be broadened to include broader processes of social change, and to address broader issues such as environmental protection. Yet, the alignment of social and environmental challenges with innovation objectives may be difficult (Schot and Steinmueller 2018). STI policy’s recent evolution from policies addressing science, technology and innovation to those addressing societal grand challenges changes the focus from technological innovation in specific sectors to the transformation of socio-technical systems (Chataway et al 2017). Complicating matters even further, research has shown that beyond technological solutions, sustainability transitions require associated changes in people’s behaviors and consumption patterns, and in how societal functions are carried out (Upham et al 2019).

Many countries in the Global South tend to have different socio-economic and socio-political contexts than countries in the Global North, such as informal market structures, plurality of formal and informal regimes, and low levels of trust in public institutions (van Welie et al 2018, Edsand 2019). Given the specific challenges faced by countries in the Global South that are different to those in the Global North, large gaps in empirical and conceptual knowledge exist regarding a possible broadening of the scope of STI policies in countries in the Global South, including:

  • How do countries in the Global South perceive, interpret, and address grand Challenges?
  • To what extent, and how, are countries in the Global South addressing these challenges in formulating and enacting STI policies? In what sense is the scope of STI policies being broadened?
  • To what extent are social issues being integrated into STI policies? Which instruments are being used to address social issues?
  • Which challenges are encountered during the formulation and implementation of broader STI policies, e.g. between national and municipal levels of government?
  • To what extent are countries involving new actors in the implementation of broader STI policies?
  • To what extent are strategies used in Global South countries different from those observed in Global North countries?

Based on this background, this session invites contributions from scholars and practitioners to improve our insights on STI policies in countries in the Global South.



Chaminade, Cristina, and Ramón Padilla-Pérez. 2017. “The Challenge of Alignment and Barriers  for the Design and Implementation of Science, Technology and Innovation Policies for Innovation Systems in Developing Countries.” In Research Handbook on Innovation Governance for Emerging Economies: Towards Better Models, 181–204.

Chataway, Joanna, Chux Daniels, Laur Kanger, Matias Ramirez, Johan Schot, and Ed Steinmueller. 2017. “Developing and Enacting Transformative Innovation Policy.” Paper developed for the 8th International Sustainability Transitions Conference, Gothenburg, Sweden.

Edsand, H.-E. 2019. “Technological Innovation System and the Wider Context: A Framework for Developing Countries.” Technology in Society 58.

Schot, Johan, and W. Edward Steinmueller. 2018. “Three Frames for Innovation Policy: R&D,  Systems of Innovation and Transformative Change.” Research Policy 47 (9): 1554–67.

Upham, Paul, Paula Bögel, and Elisabeth Dütschke. 2019. “Thinking about Individual Actor-Level Perspectives in Sociotechnical Transitions: A Comment on the Transitions Research Agenda.” Environmental Innovation and Societal Transitions 34: 0–1.

van Welie, Mara J., Pauline C. Cherunya, Bernhard Truffer, and James T. Murphy. 2018. “Analysing Transition Pathways in Developing Cities: The Case of Nairobi’s Splintered Sanitation Regime.” Technological Forecasting and Social Change 137: 259–71.