GRM 2010 GRM 2011

Abstract Details

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Towards Developing National Systems of Innovation in the GCC
Paper Proposal Text :
Within their national development plans, various GCC states have articulated their respective aspirations to diversify their hydro-carbon based economies into knowledge-based economies (KBE) in the hopes of enhancing economic progress and national competitiveness. Policies and robust investments geared towards progressing science, technology and innovation (STI) are at the forefront of these development strategies and have taken shape in the form of various endeavors that span the KBE ecosystem, ranging from educational facilities and research institutions to entrepreneurship funding schemes.
This paper assesses the current state of the innovation landscape in the GCC by examining existing policies, the strategies of various key institutions, and the role of the public sector in fostering innovation and developing a KBE. The distribution of knowledge is linked to the flows of knowledge between industry, government, academia and R&D in science and technology and as such these flows and interactions define National Systems of Innovation. Comparative examples reveal that the ecosystem and state of National Systems of Innovation can be influenced by policy and deliberate action. Mapping the innovation landscape of the GCC reveals that while innovation styles are geared towards creating robust National Systems of Innovation, there are certain key limitations and shortcomings in both the design and implementation of innovation policy. This paper seeks to further study these crucial components and gaps.
Assessing the cases of the GCC according to established notions of National Systems of Innovation reveal some deficiencies within the system. Many of the existing institutional components of innovation promotion in the GCC lack the relational aspect of National Systems of Innovation and can rarely be viewed as working in a system-like manner. Similarly, the high-reliance on foreign embodied STI, begs the question just how national are GCC National Systems of Innovation? Other structural limitations are linked to socio-political issues. The design of policies geared towards National Systems of Innovation incorporate various areas related to education, finance, labor, industry, and intellectual property. While some policies have been tailored to directly foster and spur innovation, certain counterintuitive policies related predominantly to citizenship, immigration and labor pose adverse effects on innovation. Specifically, rentierism in the GCC poses some hindrances in relation to building local capacity and incentivizing nationals to actively engage in the development of a KBE. This is vital for developing nationals that are not reliant on state patronage and accessing rent. Moreover, significant demographic challenges faced by the state have generated labor and citizenship policies that limit knowledge retention, as migrants hold ‘temporary’ positions that create a highly cyclical high-skilled migrant -worker presence.
This paper proposes to develop an analytical framework for assessing National Systems of Innovation in the GCC. While traditionally much of the scholarship on National Systems of Innovation is done in the context of highly industrialized countries, it is wanting in its application to developing countries. The case of the GCC, composed of developing countries that are predominantly resource rich, and their vigorous pursuit of creating a robust knowledge economy that fosters innovation provides, for an interesting case study.