Is there a Renewed Role for Appropriate Technology in the New Global Innovation System?



In a recent article, Kaplinsky (2011, Research Policy, 193–203) envisions a new and more ubiquitous role for appropriate technology in the emerging world innovation order marked by high relative shares of R and D in China and India. Against this however I posit that he mischaracterises the situation before and during the 1970s and in particular the assumption that appropriate innovations in that period were generated only by NGOs (when in fact they were widely used in certain East Asian countries mainly on the basis of private enterprise); he wrongly assumes that the absolute poor have no propensity to consume high-income characteristics - thus excluding this group from the analysis; he has no reservations about the induced innovation model which is central to his thesis and he ignores the connection between appropriate technology and inequality. Copyright © 2014 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.