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Posted: May 08, 2012
International Conference on Technology and Innovation for Global Development
(Nanowerk News) The aim of the "International Conference on Technology and Innovation for Global Development" (4–5 June, 2012) is to explore how emerging technologies are shaping global economies and human wellbeing. It takes stock of the relevance of the work of Austrian economist Joseph Schumpeter for developing countries and applies it to advances in polymer research—an emerging field with profound implications for global development in diverse fields such as industry, agriculture, health, water, shelter and environmental management.
The conference coincides with the centenary of the publication of Schumpeter's seminal work, The Theory of Economic Development (1911). The conference will be held in conjunction with the annual Innovation for Economic Development executive program. The conference will bring together participants from academia, industry, government and civil society to explore advances in polymer research and its application to global development. It will also examine efforts to design new institutional arrangements aimed at harnessing the power of polymer technology for improving human wellbeing and enhancing global competitiveness.
Although Schumpeter's work was clearly framed to address the unfolding nature of economic systems, policymakers and development thinkers in developing countries are only starting to be exposed to his seminal thinking. Many of these countries now embrace the idea of innovation in economic development without recognizing that they are furthering the legacy of Schumpeter.
For example, a 2005 report entitled Innovation: Applying Knowledge in Development played an important role in guiding discussions on the implementation of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals. But few leaders in developing countries associated the ideas in the report with work on Schumpeter. The ideas in the report have been widely adopted among developing countries and prepared the ground for a commemorative study on Schumpeter's legacy.
Schumpeter's intellectual legacy
Schumpeter left a rich intellectual legacy of relevance to emerging economies and globalization in general. He is associated with at least four major ideas (in writings between 1911 and 1942). First, he highlighted the critical role that innovation (broadly defined) plays in economic transformation, especially through the dynamic process of "creative destruction." Second, he argued that technological innovation, not changes in resource endowment, was an integral part of the capitalist enterprise and possibly the most powerful driver of economic transformation. Third, he postulated that expectation of monopoly power was a greater source of productivity than the mere act of being in a competitive market. Finally, he stressed the importance of history and outlined the institutional forces that influence the pace and direction of economic transformation. In a posthumous paper published in 2005 entitled "Development," Schumpeter provided the clearest articulation of the theory behind his evolutionary thinking. He stressed the role of indeterminacy, novelty and discontinuous leaps. These ideas provide a starting point for exploring the role of polymers in global development.
The aim of this conference is to convene a commemorative series of activities on the intellectual legacy of Schumpeter with specific reference to developing countries. Specific objectives of the initiative are to:
(a) outline the essential features of Schumpeter's ideas of relevance to development policy and practice;
(b) explore the role of innovation in polymer research in addressing development challenges such as industry, agriculture, health, water, shelter and environmental management;
(c) disseminate the results among development policymakers, scholars, and practitioners; and
(d) identify new research directions on innovation and development.